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United States v. Padilla

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

September 20, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent,
v.
OSCAR CAMPOS PADILLA, Movant.

FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS

DALE A. DROZD, Magistrate Judge.

Movant is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se with a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Movant was convicted by guilty plea of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and sentenced to 168 months in the custody of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. (ECF No. 1029.) Movant was indicted by a federal grand jury in this district on charges of: (1) conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine (the crime for which he was ultimately convicted), (2) conspiracy to distribute marijuana, MDMA, and cocaine, and (3) using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. (ECF No. 420.) In exchange for his plea to count one of a second superseding indictment - conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, and 841(a)(1) - the government agreed to dismiss the remaining counts of the second superseding indictment and to not oppose "a three-level reduction in [movant]'s offense level for his full and clear demonstration of acceptance of responsibility" under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines § 3E1.1 if the United State Probation Office found such a reduction to be appropriate. (See Plea Agreement Def. Oscar Campos Padilla (ECF No. 866) at 3:16-4:4.)[1] In that plea agreement, movant agreed to plead guilty to the first count of the superseding indictment, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. ( Id. at 2:24-28.)

As part of that plea agreement movant also specifically agreed to waive both his right to appeal as well as to collaterally attack his plea and sentence. ( Id. at 7:7-17.) Most importantly for purposes of the § 2255 motion now pending before the court (ECF No. 1179), in that plea agreement movant expressly waived his right to file a motion for federal habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. ( Id. at 7:15-17.)

In his § 2255 motion now pending before the court movant seeks relief on the grounds that: (1) he was factually innocent of the charge to which he plead guilty, because he "was not involved in [the] conspiracy" and (2) he received ineffective assistance of counsel ("IAC") during plea negotiations in violation of his rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. (Mot. to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence (ECF No. 1179) at 5.)

Upon careful consideration of the record and the applicable law, the undersigned finds that movant's waiver of his right to appeal or collaterally attack his conviction and sentence was voluntary and intelligent. Accordingly, it will be recommended that movant's § 2255 motion be denied without a hearing.

I. Legal Standard

Title 28 U.S.C. § 2255 provides, in pertinent part: "A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States... may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence." Under § 2255, "a district court must grant a hearing to determine the validity of a petition brought under that section, [u]nless the motions and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief.'" United States v. Blaylock , 20 F.3d 1458, 1465 (9th Cir. 1994) (alteration in original) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2255). The court may deny a hearing if the movant's allegations, viewed against the record, fail to state a claim for relief or "are so palpably incredible or patently frivolous as to warrant summary dismissal." United States v. McMullen , 98 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 1996) (internal quotation marks omitted). To warrant a hearing, therefore, the movant must make specific factual allegations which, if true, would entitle him to relief. Id . Mere conclusory assertions in a § 2255 motion are insufficient, without more, to require a hearing. United States v. Hearst , 638 F.2d 1190, 1194 (9th Cir.1980).

II. Analysis

As noted above, movant alleges in his pending § 2255 motion that he was factually innocent of the charge to which he plead guilty, because he "was not involved in [the] conspiracy" and alleges he received ineffective assistance of counsel ("IAC") during plea negotiations. (Mot. to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence (ECF No. 1179) at 5.) Specifically, movant contends "[t]he government offered him a plea agreement for two phone counts, " an offer that "called for an eight year sentence." (Id.) However, because movant's "attorney advised [him] to decline that offer, " "that offer was rescinded; and the prosecution [obtained] a superseding indictment" such that ultimately movant "was unable to secure an [eight] year sentence." (Id.)[2]

The government opposes the § 2255 motion, arguing that movant's "claims - factual innocence and failure to properly advise about a plea offer -... are... barred by [movant]'s knowing and voluntary waiver of the right to file such a motion and the record shows that his waiver of collateral attack was knowing and voluntary." (Gov't's Mot. to Dismiss; Gov't's Resp. to Def.'s 2255 Mot. (ECF No. 1202) at 10:17-20.)

Movant's written plea agreement states, in pertinent part, as follows:

B. Waiver of Appeal and Collateral Attack: The defendant understands that the law gives him a right to appeal both his conviction and his sentence. He agrees as part of his plea, however, to give up the right to appeal the conviction and the right to appeal any aspect of the sentence imposed in this case if the Court accepts this Plea Agreement under Rule 11(c)(1)(C).
If the Court accepts this Plea Agreement under Rule 11(c)(1)(C), the defendant also gives up any right he may have to bring a post-appeal attack on his conviction or sentence. He specifically agrees not to file a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255... attacking his conviction or sentence.

(ECF No. 866, at 7:7-17) (emphasis added).) At the change of plea hearing, the court found that movant was "fully competent and capable of entering an informed plea, " and "that his plea of guilty [was] a knowing and voluntary plea, " and ...


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