United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Lynn Winmill Chief Judge United States District Court
Court has before it Petitioner Jose Romos-Gonzales'
Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence Pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2255, Civ. Dkt. 1, to which the government
has filed a response, Civ. Dkt. 6. Having reviewed the
briefing and the record in this action, the Court enters the
following Order denying the Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or
a jury, the Petitioner (“Romos-Gonzales”) was
convicted on March 12, 2012, of two counts: one count of
possession with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, and
one count of distribution of methamphetamine. Crim. Dkt. 15.
Attorney Jeffrey Brownson was his appointed counsel. On June
5, 2012, this Court sentenced the Petitioner to 188-235
months' imprisonment. Crim. Dkt. 158. The Petitioner
appealed and was again represented by Jeffrey Brownson. Crim.
Dkt. 160. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the
judgment. Crim. Dkt. 207.
the denial of his petition for a writ of certiorari,
Romos-Gonzales timely filed the present § 2255 Motion
alleging that his conviction was based on ineffective
assistance of counsel by his trial and appellate counsel,
Jeffrey Brownson. Specifically, petitioner alleges that
counsel was deficient for: (1) usurping petitioner's
right to testify in his own defense; (2) abandoning
meritorious arguments at the suppression hearing; (3) failing
to object to the obstruction enhancement at sentencing; and
(4) failing to appeal the district court's application of
the obstruction enhancement. Civ. Dkt. 1. The Government
contends that Romos-Gonzales has not met his burden of
showing that counsel's performance fell below an
objective standard of reasonableness, or that he was
prejudiced by any alleged deficiencies. Civ. Dkt. 6.
Section 2255 Standard
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: (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.”
4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings provides
that a federal district court judge may summarily dismiss a
§ 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.” If the Court does not summarily dismiss
pursuant to Rule 4(b), the Court shall order the Government
“to file an answer or other pleading within the period
of time fixed by the court or to take such other action as
the judge deems appropriate.” Id.
need not hold an evidentiary hearing in a § 2255 case
“when the issue of the prisoner's credibility can
be conclusively decided on the basis of documentary testimony
and evidence in the record.” Frazer v. United
States, 18 F.3d 778, 781 (9th Cir. 1994). The Court may
dismiss the § 2255 motion at other stages of the
proceeding such as pursuant to a motion by respondent, after
consideration of the answer and motion, or after
consideration of the pleadings and an expanded record.
See Advisory Committee Notes following Rule 8 of the
Rules Governing Section 2254, incorporated by reference into
the Advisory Committee Notes following Rule 8 of the Rules
Governing Section 2255. If the Court does not dismiss the
proceeding, the Court then proceeds to a determination under
Rule 8 of whether an evidentiary hearing is required.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Standard
defendant is entitled to effective assistance of counsel at
all “critical stages” of the criminal process,
including trial, sentencing, and direct appeal. United
States v. Leonti, 326 F.3d 1111, 1116-17 (9th Cir.
2003). To challenge a sentence on grounds of ineffective
assistance of counsel, a petitioner must show that: (1)
counsel's performance was deficient, and (2) the
deficiency prejudiced his defense. See Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Mere conclusory
allegations are insufficient to state a claim of ineffective
assistance of counsel. See Shah v. United States,
878 F.2d 1156, 1161 (9th Cir. 1989).
establish deficient performance, a petitioner must show that
counsel's actions “fell below an objective standard
of reasonableness.” Id. at 688. This may be
shown where “counsel's conduct so undermined the
proper functioning of the adversarial process that the trial
cannot be relied on as having produced a just result”
or “counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not
functioning as ‘counsel' guaranteed the defendant
by the Sixth Amendment.” Id., 466 U.S. at
686-87. There is a strong presumption that counsel's
performance falls “within the wide range of reasonable
professional assistance.” Id. ...