The opinion of the court was delivered by: B. Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court
Before the Court is a Petition (Dkt. 1) to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, by Defendant/Petitioner Jabin Allen Whitlow. The government opposes and requests dismissal of Whitlow's Petition (Dkt. 11). Petitioner filed a Reply (Dkt. 12), and a Motion to Supplement (Dkt. 13). Being familiar with the record and having considered the briefing, the Court will deny Whitlow's Motion to Supplement and deny the Petition, as discussed below.
Petitioner was charged with Counts 1 and 19 in criminal Case No. 02-cr-00079, involving 29 co-defendants. Those counts charged (1) conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846(a)(1) and 841 (b)(1)(A), and (19) possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Superseding Indictment, Dkt. 60 in 02-cr-00079. Some months later, but related to the initial indictment, Petitioner alone was indicted on four counts in Case No. 02-cr-00185. Those counts included: (1) attempted distribution of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846; (2) possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); (3) use of a firearm in relation to drug trafficking in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1), and 18 U.S.C. § 2; and (4) being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Indictment, Dkt. 1 in criminal case.*fn1
A jury heard both matters, consolidated as one case, and found Petitioner guilty on all four counts in Case No. 02-cr-00185 (Dkt. 21), and Count One from Case No. 02-cr-00079 (Dkt. 644). The Court sentenced Petitioner on June 18, 2003, to 444 months in prison. Minutes,Dkt. 22. Petitioner appealed both matters.
The Ninth Circuit found the language of the government's conspiracy charge in Case No. 02-cr-00079 to be impermissibly vague. Mem. Decision, Dkt. 1038 in 02-cr-00079. Concluding that this Court should have dismissed the conspiracy count, the Ninth Circuit reversed in part, and remanded for resentencing. Id. On January 27, 2006, the Court re-sentenced Petitioner to 300 months in prison on Counts 1 through 4 in Case No. 02-cr-00185. Am. Judgment, Dkt. 39. On Petitioner's second appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the Court's sentence. Mem. Decision, Dkt. 58.
In Petitioner's motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, now before the Court, he alleges ineffective assistance of trial counsel for (1) failure to consult and advise regarding alternatives to trial; and (2) failure to seek dismissal of Count Three.
A prisoner asserting the right to be released "may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence" under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Section 2255 provides four grounds that justify relief for a federal prisoner who challenges the fact or length of his detention: (1) whether "the sentence was imposed in violation of the constitution or laws of the United States"; (2) whether the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence; (3) whether the sentence was "in excess of the maximum authorized by law"; or (4) whether the sentence is "otherwise subject to collateral attack." See Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 428 (1962). Despite this seemingly broad language, "the range of claims which may be raised in a § 2255 motion is narrow." United States v. Wilcox, 640 F.2d 970, 972 (9th Cir. 1981).
Where a motion under § 2255 is based on alleged constitutional or jurisdictional error, one must be careful to distinguish mere errors of law or fact. See Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 593 (2d ed. 1982). If the alleged error is one of law or fact, then § 2255 does not provide a basis for collateral attack "unless the claimed error constituted 'a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.'" United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979) (citing Hill, 368 U.S. at 428).
The Court recognizes that a response from the government and a prompt hearing are required "[u]nless 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); United States v. Leonti, 326 F.3d 1111, 1116 (9th Cir. 2003)(quotation omitted). To withstand summary dismissal, a defendant "must make specific factual allegations which, if true, would entitle him to relief on his claim." United States v. Keller, 902 F.2d 1391, 1395 (9th Cir. 1990). Conclusory statements, without more, are insufficient to require a hearing. United States v. Johnson, 988 F.2d 941, 945 (9th Cir. 1993).
As discussed below, even if the Court were to accept all of Petitioner's allegations as true, he still fails to raise allegations sufficient to warrant a hearing. Thus, the Court will consider the ...