United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION & ORDER
B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief District Judge.
Before the Court is the Government's Motion to Dismiss Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and Movant Sanchez-Carranza's Motion Requesting to File 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ("Motion"). Civ. Dkts. 6 and13. Having reviewed the briefing and the record in this case, as well as the underlying criminal record, the Court will grant the Motion to Dismiss and deny Sanchez-Carranza's Motion.
On July 28, 2010, the grand jury indicted Sanchez-Carranza with conspiracy to distribute fifty (50) grams or more of methamphetamine, distribution of fifty (50) grams or more of methamphetamine, and distribution near a playground. On April 13, 2011, Sanchez-Carranza was convicted by a jury of all three counts. This Court sentenced Sanchez-Carranza to 97 months on each count, to run concurrently, with eight years of supervised release. Crim. Dkt. 282. On October 15, 2011, the Ninth Circuit affirmed both his conviction and sentence. Crim. Dkt. 311.
On November 19, 2012, Sanchez-Carranza filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 alleging that his trial counsel's failure to request a "fast-track" sentence reduction, available under U.S.S. G. § 5K3.1, at his sentencing hearing constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. He bases his claim on the January 31, 2012 memorandum discussed below from James M. Cole, Deputy Attorney General, to United States Attorneys regarding fast-track. In response, the Government filed the Motion to Dismiss that is now before the Court.
On October 10, 2013, the Court received Sanchez-Carranza's Motion. Although it purports to request a form for filing a § 2255 motion, the context of the Motion and a review of the docket makes it clear that Sanchez-Carranza is actually requesting either a copy of the § 2255 Motion that is currently pending or a further extension of time for responding to the Motion to Dismiss. Because the § 2255 Motion is so obviously lacking in merit, the Court will deny Sanchez-Carranza's Motion except to the extent that he may be requesting a copy of his § 2255 Motion.
Section 2255 provides four grounds that justify relief for a federal prisoner who challenges the fact or length of his detention: (1) "that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States;" (2) "that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence;" (3) "that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law;" and (4) that the sentence is otherwise "subject to collateral attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). 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).
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 obtain an evidentiary hearing, 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).
To survive the Motion to Dismiss, Sanchez-Carranza must show that (1) his attorney's performance was unreasonable under prevailing professional standards, and (2) there is a "reasonable probability that but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result would have been different." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-91, 694 (1984). Strickland defines a reasonable probability as "a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." Id. Sanchez-Carranza has not shown either of these required elements and has not made factual allegations that would entitle him to relief on his claim. Accordingly, this Court will dismiss Sanchez-Carranza's ineffective assistance of counsel claim without an evidentiary hearing.
First and foremost, the outcome of Sanchez-Carranza's case would not have been any different had his trial counsel requested a downward departure pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5K3.1 at the sentencing hearing. The early disposition programs made available under this section implement the directive of § 401(m)(2)(B) of the 2003 Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation of Children Today Act ("PROTECT Act"). Pub. L. No. 108-066, 117 Stat. 650, Apr. 30, 2003. The aim of these fast-track programs is to incentivize defendant cooperation in order to circumvent the prosecutorial process and speed-up sentencing for certain high case-load crimes such as illegal reentry cases under 8 U.S.C. § 1326. Justice Department Policy on Early Disposition or "Fast-Track" Programs, (Jan. 31, 2012), available at www.justice.gov/dag/fast-track-program.pdf. Each federal district's fast track program must meet certain criteria and be authorized by the Attorney General before being implemented. Id. In 2012, in response to concerns about the lack of uniformity in sentencing between fast-track and non-fast track districts, the Justice Department's policy changed to require every district that prosecutes felony illegal reentry cases to have a fast-track program for that category of cases. Id. The District of Idaho only allows fast-track sentencing for defendants charged with illegal reentry under 8 U.S.C. § 1326. Justice Department Memoranda Authorizing Fast-Track Programs. 21 Fed.Sent.R. 318, 323 (2009).
The defendant must meet certain minimum requirements to be eligible for a downward departure under a fast-track sentencing program. Id. at 319-20. First, the defendant must promptly plead guilty to the charges. Second, the defendant must enter a written plea agreement that contains an accurate factual description of the offense conduct, an agreement not to file pretrial motions under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(b)(3), and a waiver ...