The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable A. Howard Matz, U.S. District Judge
Present: The Honorable A. HOWARD MATZ, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Stephen Montes Not Reported
Deputy Clerk Court Reporter / Recorder Tape No.
Attorneys NOT Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys NOT Present for Defendants:
Proceedings: IN CHAMBERS (No Proceedings Held)
The Court hereby DENIES Defendant Ernest George Mancha's motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.*fn1
Mancha was charged with conspiring to possess methamphetamine along with two counts of using a communication facility in committing a felony drug offense. Prior to trial, the government filed an information under 21 U.S.C. § 851 alleging that Mancha had been convicted of a prior drug felony. After a two-day trial, he was convicted on all counts. At his sentencing hearing, Mancha admitted that he was convicted of the prior drug felony. Accordingly, the Court sentenced him to the mandatory minimum sentence of 240 months' imprisonment. The Ninth Circuit affirmed Mancha's convictions and sentence on appeal.
Mancha raises two claim of relief in his motion. His first claim alleges ineffective assistance of counsel. In support of his claim, he alleges that his attorney Robert Nadler "told [him] to go to trial because no drugs were found" and "the most I would get is [a] phone count." Mot. at 5. He does not supply any further factual allegations to support this claim. In contrast, the government has submitted detailed declarations by Nadler as well as the lead prosecutor on the case, Terrence Mann, that controvert Mancha's bare claims.
Nadler attests that he never advised Mancha to go to trial in this case and never told him that "the [most] he would get is [a] phone count." Nadler Decl. (Dkt. 13-1) at 1.
To the contrary, he asserts that in August 2008, before the § 851 information was filed, the government proposed a plea bargain that would allow Mancha to avoid the 20-year mandatory minimum. Id. at 1-2. Nadler declares that he advised Mancha to accept this plea bargain, but that Mancha rejected it and stated that he would not accept any deal that required him to plea guilty to the central narcotics conspiracy charge. Id. Nadler states that he further attempted to have Mancha sit for a "reverse proffer," in which the government would show Mancha the evidence against him, in an attempt to convince Mancha of the strength of the government's case on the conspiracy count. Id.at 2-3. Nadler states that Mancha refused to attend the reverse proffer and insisted on going to
Id. Nadler's declaration is corroborated by the declaration of Assistant United States Attorney Terrence Mann as well as copies of contemporaneous electronic correspondence between Nadler and Mann. See Dkt. 13-2.
The decision to reject a plea bargain offer and plead not guilty is a "vitally important decision and a critical stage at which the right to counsel attaches." Turner v. Calderon, 281 F.3d 851, 879 (9th Cir. 2002); see also Lafler v. Cooper, 132 S. Ct. 1376 (2012) (holding that defense counsel is ineffective when he advises client against taking a favorable plea offer). To succeed on an ineffective assistance claim in this context, a movant must show both that counsel's erroneous advice fell below an objective standard of reasonableness and that, but for counsel's errors, he would have pleaded guilty and received a less severe sentence. Lafler, 132 S. Ct. at 1384-85.
A § 2255 movant is entitled to an evidentiary hearing "unless the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that ...