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United States v. Hayat

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 6, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
HAMID HAYAT, Defendant.

          ORDER

          DEBORAH BARNES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Petitioner, defendant Hamid Hayat, is a federal inmate pursuing habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, asserting that he was denied effective assistance of counsel, that the government violated Brady[1], and that the government suppressed exculpatory evidence. (ECF No. 531.) After extensive -- and time-consuming -- efforts in discovery and pursuing summary judgment, the matter is now fully briefed and before the undersigned for a determination as to whether an evidentiary hearing is warranted. For the reasons outlined below, the undersigned orders that an evidentiary hearing is necessary on all of defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims and that the court will hold a status conference on June 23, 2017 at 10:00 AM to discuss the scheduling and logistics of the evidentiary hearing. The parties are ordered to confer before the status conference concerning the timeline, logistics, and prospective witnesses. Furthermore, defense counsel shall be prepared to discuss the status of the Brady claims and any outstanding discovery requests related to those claims.

         I. Background

         Defendant filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on April 30, 2014. (ECF No. 531.) Before the government filed an appropriate answer to the petition, defendant moved for summary judgment on November 13, 2014. (ECF No. 548.) The magistrate judge previously assigned to this case issued findings and recommendations that the motion for summary judgment be denied on March 10, 2016. (ECF No. 588.) The district court adopted the findings and recommendations in part and entered an order denying defendant's motion for summary judgment on November 10, 2016. (ECF No. 600.) On December 12, 2016, the undersigned ordered that a status conference be held for the purpose of discussing further proceedings in this case.

         The court held a status conference on January 13, 2016. Two days before the status conference, defendant filed a “status conference memorandum and request for setting an evidentiary hearing.” (ECF No. 603.) After the status conference, the court ordered further briefing from the parties concerning the need for an evidentiary hearing, as well as the status of the government's answer to the initial petition. (ECF No. 605.) Upon reviewing the full briefing, the court determined that the government's initial answer to the petition, filed on August 5, 2014, merely admitted or denied allegations of the petition in the manner of an answer in a non-habeas case under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The answer did not comply with Rule 5 of the Federal Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings or Judge Kellison's June 6, 2014 order requiring an answer, as it does not adequately frame the issues for the court.

         Accordingly, the undersigned ordered the government to file an appropriate answer, to which defendant could file an optional traverse. (ECF No. 609.) On April 17, 2017, the government filed its supplemental answer. (ECF No. 612.) On May 8, 2017, defendant filed his traverse. (ECF No. 615.) The matter is now ripe for a determination as to whether the petition necessitates an evidentiary hearing.

         II. Legal Standard

         In reviewing a motion brought pursuant to § 2255, a federal court shall hold an evidentiary hearing “unless the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). See also United States v. Zuno-Arce, 339 F.3d 886, 889 (9th Cir. 2003); United States v. Blaylock, 20 F.3d 1458, 1465 (9th Cir. 1994) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b)). Evidentiary hearings are particularly appropriate when “claims raise facts which occurred out of the courtroom and off the record.” United States v. Burrows, 872 F.2d 915, 917 (9th Cir. 1989); accord Frazer v. United States, 18 F.3d 778, 781 (9th Cir. 1994); Doganiere v. United States, 914 F.2d 165, 168 (9th Cir. 1990). When a § 2255 movant raises a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, the court should hold an evidentiary hearing unless “something in the record conclusively shows that [movant's] trial attorney was not ineffective.” Burrows, 872 F.2d at 917.

         In deciding whether a § 2255 movant is entitled to an evidentiary hearing, the district court should determine whether, accepting the truth of movant's factual allegations, he could prevail on his claim. Blaylock, 20 F.3d at 1465. However, to be entitled to an evidentiary hearing the movant must provide specific factual allegations which, if true, state a claim on which relief under § 2255 could be granted. United States v. Leonti, 326 F.3d 1111, 1116 (9th Cir. 2003); United States v. Schaflander, 743 F.2d 714, 717 (9th Cir. 1984). The court may deny a request for evidentiary hearing on a § 2255 motion “if the petitioner's allegations, viewed against the record, fail to state a claim 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 citations omitted).

         III. Legal Analysis

         A. Necessity of Evidentiary Hearing

         1.Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims

         When a § 2255 movant raises a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, the court should hold an evidentiary hearing unless “something in the record conclusively shows that [movant's] trial attorney was not ineffective.” Burrows, 872 F.2d at 917. The government argues, in general, that the court can conclusively decide the ineffective assistance of counsel claims on the documentary record because defendant's trial counsel, Wazhma Mojaddidi, was deposed by the parties after the filing of the petition. (ECF No. 612 at 37.) However, Mojaddidi's deposition is not determinative concerning all of the facts underlying defendant's ineffective assistance allegations. Furthermore, contradictions of Mojaddidi's deposition testimony, from her own prior statements and the statements of other proposed witnesses, puts Mojaddidi's credibility at issue. Accordingly, the court believes an evidentiary hearing is necessary on the ineffective assistance claims for the following reasons.

         Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claims are broken down into two distinct categories: (1) actual conflicts of interest and (2) constitutionally deficient performance. The undersigned will address the need for a hearing ...


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