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Madrigal v. United States

United States District Court, D. Idaho

September 29, 2014

RAFEAL MADRIGAL, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

B. LYNN WINMILL, Chief District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court is Rafeal Madrigal's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 2255 (Dkt. 1), and Motion for Downward Departure (Dkt. 11). Having reviewed the record, including the record in the underlying criminal case, the Court will deny the motions.

BACKGROUND

On May 14, 2008, the grand jury indicted Madrigal with numerous firearms-related counts and illegal re-entry. USA v. Madrigal, 1:08-cr-112-BLW, Dkt. 1. On September 17, 2008, the parties filed a Plea Agreement. Id., Dkt. 2. Madrigal pleaded guilty to Counts One, Four, and Seven: Illegal Re-entry, Possession of an Unregistered, Sawed-Off Shotgun, and Forfeiture. Id., Dkt. 23.

On January 9, 2009, right before his sentencing, Madrigal moved to withdraw his guilty plea. Id., Dkt. 33. On January 22, 2009, the Court denied his motion to withdraw his plea and sentenced him to 130 months. Id., Dkt. 37, 39. Shortly thereafter, on January 26, 2009, Madrigal filed an appeal. Id., Dkt. 40. The Ninth Circuit affirmed Madrigal's conviction. Id., Dkt. 56.

ANALYSIS

1. Motion to Vacate Sentence

Madrigal moves to vacate his sentence based on four claims, which he sets forth with a minimum of detail and in a conclusory manner. Madrigal alleges: (1) his counsel was ineffective because he failed to object to the Government's alleged improper motive in declining to move for a downward departure for substantial assistance; (2) his counsel was ineffective because he failed to advise him of the immigration consequences related to his convictions; (3) his prior convictions were used to unconstitutionally enhance his sentence; and (4) he is entitled to post-sentencing rehabilitation relief in accordance with Pepper v. United States . Def.'s Mot., Dkt. 1. Even accepting the truth of Madrigal's factual allegations, no hearing is warranted. The Court will decide the motion based on the briefing and the record.

A. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims

To prevail on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a defendant must show (1) that his representation fell below objectively "reasonabl[e] effective service" and (2) the reasonable probability that the result was prejudiced by counsel's actions. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-688 (1984). The Strickland two-part test is applicable to cases where a defendant claims ineffective assistance of council during a guilty plea. Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 54, 58 (1985). Allegations that are merely conclusory are insufficient to support a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel. United State v. Johnson, 988 F.2d 941, 945 (9th Cir. 1993). The Court may evaluate the elements of ineffective counsel in either order, and need not show that both elements are not if there is insufficient showing of one. Id. at 697.

Generally, there is no rule that defines the basis for a finding of ineffective counsel; rather it is based on case specific circumstances. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 690. However, there is a presumption that "counsel's conduct falls within a wide range of reasonable professional assistance." Id. To show that counsel did not perform reasonably effective service, the defendant must show that counsel made errors that no reasonable attorney would have made under the same circumstances. Id. In evaluating counsel performance, the court should analyze performance throughout the case to determine if the alleged erroneous conduct "overcomes the presumption that counsel rendered reasonable professional assistance." Kimmelman v. Morrison, 477 U.S. 365, 386 (1986).

To show prejudice, a defendant must show that without counsel's errors, there is a "reasonable probability" that the result of the case would be different. Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 58 (1985). A reasonable probability is "a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694. The burden to show prejudice is on the moving party. Id. The standard to show prejudice is "highly demanding." Kimmelman, 477 U.S. at 381-82. Even if there were an ...


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