United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Honorable Edward J. Lodge U.S. District Judge.
before the Court in the above entitled matter is Petitioner
Justin Lyle Izatt's Motion to Vacate or Set Aside
Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (CIV Dkt. 1, CR Dkt.
114). This matter is fully briefed by the parties.
fully reviewed the record, the Court finds that the facts and
legal arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and
record. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further
delay, and because the Court conclusively finds that the
decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral
argument, this matter shall be decided on the record before
this Court without oral argument.
Izatt was originally indicted on one count of possession with
intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture and
substance containing methamphetamine. The charge was amended
to possession with intent to distribute 50 grams of actual
methamphetamine. Defendant retained two attorneys to
represent him at trial. The jury found Mr. Izatt guilty on
the amended charges (CR Dkt. 63). Because this conviction was
Mr. Izatt's third felony conviction for controlled
substances, the Court had no discretion at sentencing and Mr.
Izatt was sentenced to life imprisonment, a 10 year term of
supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.
to sentencing, Mr. Izatt filed a motion for acquittal which
was denied by the Court. CR Dkt. 70. Mr. Izatt filed a direct
appeal challenging his life sentence and certain rulings made
during the course of the trial. The Ninth Circuit affirmed
the District Court. CR Dkts. 93 and 95. The United States
Supreme Court denied his Petition for Writ of Certiorari. CR
Dkt. 97. Mr. Izatt next filed a motion for a new trial. CR
Dkt. 98. This motion was denied. CR Dkt. 103. This ruling was
also appealed to the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit
affirmed the District Court's denial of the motion for a
new trial. CR Dkts. 118 and 119.
Mr. Izatt has filed his § 2255 motion alleging
ineffective assistance of counsel during the pre-trial phase
of his criminal case, during the jury phase, and during the
sentencing phase. Mr. Izatt has provided declarations in
support of his motion. The Government has responded to the
motion and included an affidavit of Mr. Douglas Nelson, one
of Mr. Izatt's trial attorneys.
to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, the Court recognizes that a
response from the government and a 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....” Furthermore, a hearing must be granted
unless the movant's allegations, “when
viewed against the record, either fail to state a claim for
relief or are ‘so palpably incredible or patently
frivolous as to warrant summary dismissal.” United
States v. Schaflander, 743 F.2d 714, 717 (9th Cir.);
Marrow v. United States, 772 F.2d 525, 526 (9th Cir.
1985). However, a district court may summarily dismiss a
Section 2255 motion “[i]f it plainly appears from the
face of the motion and any annexed exhibits and the prior
proceedings in the case that the movant is not entitled to
relief....” Rule 4(b), Rules Governing Section 2255
Proceedings in the United States District Court. Thus in
order to withstand summary dismissal of his motion for relief
under Section 2255, 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). In the present case, the
legal issues presented do not require an evidentiary hearing.
ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL
Standard of Review for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Sixth Amendment guarantees "the right to effective
assistance of counsel." McMann v. Richardson,
397 U.S. 759, 771 n. 14 (1970). To establish a constitutional
violation based on ineffective assistance of counsel, a
petitioner must show both (1) that counsel's
representation fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness, and (2) that counsel's deficient
performance prejudiced the defense. Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 692, 694 (1984).
"deficient performance" requires the movant to show
that counsel made errors so serious that he was not
functioning as the "counsel" guaranteed by the
Sixth Amendment. Id. at 687; Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 104 (2011). "Deficient
performance" means representation that "fell below
an objective standard of reasonableness." Stanley v.
Cullen, 633 F.3d 852, 862 (9th Cir. 2011). In evaluating
counsel's performance, the court must apply a strong
presumption that counsel's representation fell within the
wide range of reasonable professional assistance.
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689 (A "court must
indulge a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls
within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance;
that is, the defendant must overcome the presumption that,
under the circumstances, the challenged action might be
considered sound trial strategy.").
means that the error actually had an adverse effect on the
defense. To demonstrate prejudice, the movant must show that
"there is a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the
proceeding would have been different."
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694. A reasonable
probability is a probability sufficient to undermine
confidence in the outcome. Id. "It is not
enough 'to show that the errors had some conceivable
effect on the outcome of the proceeding.'"
Harrington, 562 U.S. at 104 (quoting
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 693). A court need not
determine whether counsel's performance was deficient
before examining the prejudice suffered by the movant as a
result of the alleged deficiencies. Strickland, 466
U.S. at 697. Nor does the court need to address both prongs
of the Strickland test if the petitioner's
showing is insufficient as to one prong. Id. at 697.