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Penaloza-Paramo v. United States

United States District Court, D. Idaho

August 22, 2018

JOSE PENALOZA-PARAMO, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. Lynn Winmill, Chief U.S. District Court Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Jose Penaloza-Paramo's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence (Civ. Dkt. 1) Also pending is Penaloza-Paramo's Motion to Dismiss (Civ. Dkt. 23). Having now reviewed and considered the motions, the Court enters the following Order granting the Government's Motion to Dismiss and dismissing the § 2255 Petition.

         BACKGROUND

         Penaloza-Paramo was charged by superseding indictment with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846, and ten counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 842(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. (Docket No. 84). The Petitioner originally pled guilty to count twenty-three, and was sentenced. However, the case was remanded by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. (Crim. Dkt. 385). Penaloza-Paramo subsequently entered into an identical plea agreement. (Crim. Dkt. 365.). The case proceeded to change of plea and sentencing on May 29, 2013. (Crim. Dkt. 385). The Court then sentenced Penaloza-Paramo to 240 months in prison. (Crim. Dkt. 385).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Title 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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

         Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings provides that a federal district court judge must dismiss a § 2255 motion “[i]f it plainly appears from the motion, any attached exhibits, and the record of prior proceedings that the moving party is not entitled to relief.” In order to proceed on a § 2255 motion, the movant must make “specific factual allegations that, if true, state a claim on which relief could be granted.” United States v. Schaflander, 743 F.2d 714, 717 (9th Cir. 1984) (citation omitted) (emphasis added). “Under this standard, a district court may summarily dismiss a § 2255 motion only if the allegations in the motion, when viewed against the record, do not give rise to a claim for relief or are ‘palpably incredible or patently frivolous.'” United States v. Withers, 638 F.3d 1055, 1062-63 (9th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted).

         ANALYSIS

         Penaloza-Paramo alleges ineffective assistance of counsel. The well-established two-prong test for evaluating ineffective assistance of counsel claims is deficient performance and resulting prejudice. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Mere conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Shah v. United States, 878 F.2d 1156, 1161 (9th Cir. 1989).

         In order to establish deficient performance, a defendant must show that counsel's performance “fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688. Under the performance prong, there is a strong presumption that counsel's performance falls “within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.” Id. at 689. This is so because for the defendant, “[i]t is all too tempting . . . to second-guess counsel's assistance after conviction or adverse sentence. . . .” Id. For the court, “it is all too easy to conclude that a particular act or omission of counsel was unreasonable in the harsh light of hindsight.” Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 702 (2002) (discussing Strickland).

         In order to establish prejudice, a defendant must affirmatively prove by a reasonable degree of probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694. The Strickland standard is “highly demanding.” Kimmelman v. Morrision, 477 U.S. 365, 381-82; 386 (noting that the court should “assess counsel's overall performance throughout the case” when evaluating whether his assistance was reasonable).

         Both prongs of the Strickland test must be met “before it can be said that a conviction (or sentence) ‘resulted from a breakdown in the adversary process that render[ed] the result [of the proceeding] unreliable' and thus in violation of the Sixth Amendment.” United States v. Thomas, 417 F.3d 1053, 1056 (9th Cir. 2005) (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687). Whether or not counsel's performance was deficient is irrelevant if there was no prejudice as both of Strickland's prongs must be met to be entitled to relief. In evaluating an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a court may consider the performance and prejudice components of the Strickland test in either order. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 697.

         As recently reiterated by the Supreme Court, a defendant's right to effective assistance of counsel has long been held to apply to the plea process. Missouri v. Frye, 132 S.Ct. 1399, 1408 (2012); Lafler v. Cooper, 132 S.Ct. 1376, 1385 (2012); Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356, 373 (2010); Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 57 (1985). The same Strickland standard applies to claims of ineffective assistance of counsel at the plea stage. Hill, 474 U.S. at 58. Here, Penaloza-Paramo makes several ...


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