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Huitran-Barron v. United States

United States District Court, D. Idaho

November 13, 2018

Bulmaro Huitran-Barron, Petitioner,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

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

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Movant Bulmaro Huitran-Barron's § 2255 motion (Dkt. 1) and the government's motion to dismiss (Dkt. 12). For the reasons explained below, the Court will order further briefing from the government regarding ground one of Huitran-Barron's motion, and will dismiss the claims asserted in grounds two and three.

         BACKGROUND

         In April 2016, Huitran-Barron sold methamphetamine to an undercover police officer on two separate occasions. He was arrested in June 2016, after arranging to again sell methamphetamine to an undercover office. Huitran-Barron was charged with four counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. See Superseding Indictment, Cr. Dkt. 12.[1]

         In November 2016, Huitran-Barron pleaded guilty to one of the four drug charges, and the government agreed to dismiss the remaining charges. See Plea Agreement, Dkt. 19. The Court sentenced Huitran-Barron to 82 months' imprisonment followed by four years' supervised release. Judgment, Cr. Dkt. 34.

         In July 2017, Huitran-Barron filed this motion to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. He alleges that his counsel was ineffective during pretrial proceedings, at sentencing, and after sentencing.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         1. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         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 her 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 § 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.” “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).

         If the Court does not dismiss pursuant to Rule 4(b), the Court shall order the Government “to file an answer, motion, or other response within a fixed time, or to take other action the judge may order.”

         The Court may dismiss a § 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 Proceedings incorporated by reference into the Advisory Committee Notes following Rule 8 of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings.

         If the Court does not dismiss the proceeding, the Court then determines under Rule 8 whether an evidentiary hearing is required. The Court need not hold an evidentiary hearing if the issues can be conclusively decided on the basis of the evidence in the record. See Frazier v. United States, 18 F.3d 778, 781 (9th Cir. 1994). In determining whether a § 2255 motion requires a hearing, “[t]he standard essentially is whether the movant has made specific factual allegations that, if true, state a claim on which relief could be granted.” Withers, 638 F.3d at 1062.

         2. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         The well-established two-prong test for evaluating ineffective assistance of counsel claims is deficient performance and resulting prejudice. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). More specifically, to prevail on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a defendant must show that counsel's performance “fell below an objective standard of reasonableness” and that “there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” Id. at 688, 697; see also Bell v. Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 695 (2002). Mere conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. See Shah v. United States, 898 F.2d 1156, 1161 (9th Cir. 1989).

         In order to establish deficient performance, a defendant must show that “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 that “counsel made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as ‘counsel' guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 686-87. 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.

         An attorney has a constitutional duty to consult with a defendant about an appeal either if a rational defendant would want to appeal, or if the particular defendant has reasonably demonstrated his interest in appealing. Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470, 480 (2000). Where a defendant does not consent to counsel's failure to file a ...


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