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Chacon v. United States

September 15, 2010

TYRONE D. CHACON, DEFENDANT-MOVANT.
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable B. Lynn Winmill Chief U. S. District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is Parties' Proposed Settlement (Dkt. 12) suggesting a resolution of the pending § 2255 Motion filed through counsel by Tyrone D. Chacon ("Chacon") alleging ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will accept the Proposed Settlement.

BACKGROUND

Chacon pled guilty to one count of distributing in excess of 72 grams of actual methamphetamine and marijuana. A Presentence Report was prepared which provided for an enhancement for role in the offense and possession of a firearm resulting in a guideline range of 151 to 188 months. Defense counsel filed objections to the drug quantity calculation, the firearm enhancement, the determination that Chacon was not eligible for the safety valve relief, and the role enhancement. Objection to Presentence Report (Dkt. 192 in criminal case).

At the conclusion of a three-day sentencing hearing, the Court found that Chacon had obstructed justice by committing perjury and was therefore not entitled to the adjustment for acceptance of responsibility contained in the Presentence Report. The Court's findings raised the guideline range to 262 to 327 months. On February 27, 2006, the Court imposed a sentence of 262 months. Chacon's appeal of his sentence was dismissed, and he timely filed the pending § 2255 Motion requesting resentencing in the range of the statutory minimum of 120 months to the high end of the original range or 188 months.

Chacon's counseled § 2255 Motion contains a myriad of detailed allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel such as (1) failure to investigate and review important available discovery including recorded conversations containing highly inculpatory statements and admissions; (2) failure investigate Chacon's background to discover several significant mitigating factors including mental health issues; (3) failure to familiarize himself with federal sentencing law as evidence by his "unintelligible, legally and factually incorrect objections to the Presentence Investigation Report;" (4) failure to adequately prepare Chacon to testify and allocute at the sentencing hearing; and (5) failure to perceive or disclose an inherent conflict of interest at the sentencing hearing based on his unfamiliarity with federal sentencing law and procedure.

The § 2255 Motion is supported by detailed affidavits of Chacon's wife, brother, and current counsel as well as records from the jail facilities where he was housed between entry of his plea and sentencing. Dkts. 1-2, 1-3, and 1-4. The Motion is also amply supported by references to the record and transcripts. See generally Pretrial Memorandum (Dkt. 1-1).

Rather than filing a response to the § 2255 Motion, the Government engaged in several discussions with current counsel in an attempt to pursue resolution of the Motion without a hearing. The end result of those discussions is the Parties' Proposed Settlement recommending a sentence of 180 months which the Court now considers.

STANDARD OF LAW

Title 28 U.S.C. § 2255 provides four grounds under which a federal court may grant relief to a federal prisoner who challenges the imposition or length of his or her incarceration, including, as relevant here, "that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

If the Court does not dismiss the proceeding under Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings, it then proceeds to a determination under Rule 8 of whether an evidentiary hearing is required.

The Court need not hold an evidentiary hearing if the issues raised in the § 2255 motion can be conclusively decided on the basis of the evidence in the record. See Frazer v. United States, 18 F.3d 778, 781 (9th Cir. 1994). However, where, assuming the truth of specific factual allegations when viewed against the record, Defendant states a claim upon which relief could be granted, an evidentiary hearing is required to resolve the factual dispute before the Court can make a determination on the merits. See United States v. Leonti, 326 F.3d 1111, 1116 (2003). See also United States v. Rodrigues, 347 F.3d 818, 824 (9th Cir. 2003) (to warrant an evidentiary hearing, a § 2255 motion must allege specific facts which, if true, would entitle an individual to relief).

The well-established two-prong test for evaluating ineffective assistance of counsel claims is deficient performance and resulting prejudice. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U. S. 668 (1984). Mere conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a claim of ineffective assistance of ...


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