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United States v. Linares

United States District Court, D. Idaho

March 27, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff/Respondent,
HORACIO LINARES, Defendant/Movant.


          B. Lynn Winmill, United States District Judge.


         Pending before the Court is Defendant/Movant's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Civil Dkt. 1; Crim. Dkt. 531. For the following reasons, the Court will deny the motion without a hearing.


         On February 25, 2016, Defendant/Movant, Mr. Linares plead guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamme, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(c), 846 (Count One). Crim. Dkts. 1, 413, 414. At sentencing, the Court calculated Mr. Linares' total combined offense level of 32 with a Criminal History Category of IV. As such, Count One carried a guideline range of 168-210 months of imprisonment.

         On March 8, 2016, Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. An evidentiary hearing was held on September 7, 2016 and this Court denied Mr. Linares' motion finding that Mr. Linares "participated in his plea negotiations, and willingly signed a plea agreement he understood." Crim. Dkt. 497. Mr. Linares fully reviewed the agreement in Spanish and with an interpreter. Id. Although he "ultimately received a recommended base offense level he did not want, [that alone] is not grounds for withdrawal of the guilty plea." Id. at 3. On November 1, 2016, Defendant was sentenced tol20months.Crim. Dkt.512.

         Mr. Linares now challenges the constitutionality of his sentence on numerous grounds, including ineffective assistance of counsel and due process claims. Crim. Dkt. 531 at 3; Civil Dkt. 1 at 3. Mr. Linares argues he received ineffective assistance of counsel and, had he not relied on false information provided by his attorney, he would not have pled guilty. Mr. Linares further argues that the Court's denial of his request to withdraw his guilty plea was erroneous.[1] Crim. Dkt. 531 at 4-9; Civil Dkt. 1 at 4-9.


         1. Section 2255 Standard

         To state a cognizable claim under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a movant must assert (1) that he or she is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, (2) that the district court lacked jurisdiction, (3) that the sentence exceeded the maximum allowed by law, or (4) that the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). In detraining 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." United States v. Withers, 638 F.3d 1055, 1062 (9th Cir. 2011).

         Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings provides that a federal district judge may dismiss a § 2255 motion "[i]f it plainly appears from the fact of the motion and any annexed exhibits and the prior proceedings in the case that the movant is not entitled to relief."

         2. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Standard

         The well-established two-prong test for evaluating ineffective assistance of counsel claims is (1) deficient performance and (2) 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 presumption that counsel's performance falls "with the wide range of reasonable professional assistance." Id. at 689. The presumption exists for the reason being that, 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 ...

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