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Contreras v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 8, 2017

ALFONSO CONTRERAS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ORDER DIRECTING CLERK OF COURT TO ASSIGN DISTRICT JUDGE FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DISMISS PETITION FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION [TWENTY-ONE DAY OBJECTION DEADLINE]

          JENNIFER L. THURSTON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Petitioner was convicted of a drug offense in this Court in 2001. He has since served his federal sentence and been released from custody. He now petitions for a writ of error coram nobis. As discussed below, the Court finds the petition should be dismissed because Petitioner has failed to satisfy the requirements for the highly unusual remedy of coram nobis.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On March 19, 2001, Petitioner was convicted in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, before Hon. Oliver W. Wanger, of one count of possession of pseudoephedrine with intent to manufacture methamphetamine, and aiding and abetting. (United States v. Contreras, Case No. 1:00-cr-05165-OWW, Doc. No. 22.[1]) He was sentenced to a determinate term of 57 months in federal prison. (Id.) He completed his sentence and was released from custody.

         He filed the instant petition for writ of error coram nobis on October 10, 2017. (Doc.1.) He moves to vacate or set aside and expunge the conviction because his plea was invalid, unintelligent and involuntary. It appears he is claiming that neither the trial court nor his attorney advised him that deportation was a possible consequence. He further claims that his plea was not knowing and intelligent because the Magistrate Judge misinformed him as to the nature of the charged crime. Finally, he challenges the validity of the statutes under which he was convicted.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Preliminary Review of Petition

         Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases requires the Court to make a preliminary review of each petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Court must summarily dismiss a petition “[i]f it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court . . . .” Rule 4; O'Bremski v. Maass, 915 F.2d 418, 420 (9th Cir. 1990). The Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 8 indicate that the Court may dismiss a petition for writ of habeas corpus, either on its own motion under Rule 4, pursuant to the respondent's motion to dismiss, or after an answer to the petition has been filed.

         B. Standard for Writ of Error Coram Nobis

         “Both the Supreme Court and [the Ninth Circuit] have long made clear that the writ of error coram nobis is a highly unusual remedy, available only to correct grave injustices in a narrow range of cases where no more conventional remedy is applicable.” United States v. Riedl, 496 F.3d 1003, 1005-06 (9th Cir. 2007). The Supreme Court characterized the writ as an “extraordinary remedy” that should be granted “only under circumstances compelling such action to achieve justice.” United States v. Morgan, 346 U.S. 502, 511 (1954); see also Carlisle v. United States, 517 U.S. 416, 429 (1996) (“‘[I]t is difficult to conceive of a situation in a federal criminal case today where [a writ of coram nobis ] would be necessary or appropriate.'”) (quoting United States v. Smith, 331 U.S. 469, 475 n. 4 (1947)) (second alteration in original). The writ has been available to bring before the court only those fundamental “factual errors material to the validity and regularity of the legality of the proceeding itself, such as the defendants being under age or having died before the verdict.” Carlisle, 517 U.S. at 429.

         The Ninth Circuit has also described the writ as “extraordinary, ” Hirabayashi v. United States, 828 F.2d 591, 604 (9th Cir. 1997), “used only to review errors of the most fundamental character, ” Matus-Leva v. United States, 287 F.3d 758, 760 (9th Cir. 2002), and “fill[ing] a very precise gap in federal criminal procedure, ” Telink, Inc. v. United States, 24 F.3d 42, 45 (9th Cir. 1994). The Ninth Circuit adopted the following framework to determine when the writ should issue:

[A] petitioner must show the following to qualify for coram nobis relief: (1) a more usual remedy is not available; (2) valid reasons exist for not attacking the conviction earlier; (3) adverse consequences exist from the conviction sufficient to satisfy the case or controversy requirement of Article III; and (4) the error is of the most fundamental character.

Hirabayashi, 828 F.2d at 604. ...


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