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United States v. Hernandez-Gomez

United States District Court, D. Idaho

February 4, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ATENEDORO HERNANDEZ-GOMEZ, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. LYNN WINMILL, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Reduction of Sentence Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). Crim. Dkt. 97. Also pending is Defendant's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody. Crim Dkt. 88; Civ. Dkt. 1. Finally, Defendant filed a motion seeking his sentencing transcripts. Civ. Dkt. 11.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         1. Relief Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582

          “A federal court generally ‘may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed.'” Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 819 (2010). Thus, “a judgment of conviction that includes a sentence of imprisonment constitutes a final judgment and may not be modified by a district court except in limited circumstances.” Id. at 824 (internal modifications and citations omitted) (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3582(b)). Such circumstances include where a sentence is corrected pursuant to Criminal Rule 35, upon motion by the government pursuant to Rule 35, or where the sentence is appealed and the case is remanded to the district court for resentencing. See 18 U.S.C. § 3582(b); Fed. R. Crim. P. 35. Alternatively, the Court may modify a sentence upon motion by the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, or if otherwise expressly authorized by statute. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1). Finally, the Court may modify a sentence where the defendant “has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission.” § 3582(c)(2).

         2. Section 2255 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.”

         Rule 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.”

         A court 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).

         3. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Standard

          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, 878 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 ...


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