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Camacho v. United States

United States District Court, D. Idaho

May 14, 2019

RAYMOND CAMACHO, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION & ORDER

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

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Raymond Camacho's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct By A Person in Federal Custody Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Civ. Dkt. 4). The motion is fully briefed and at issue. Having reviewed and considered the motion and the Government's response, the Court will deny the § 2255 motion and dismiss the action without a hearing.

         BACKGROUND

         On February 28, 2012 Raymond Camacho was charged in Counts I-IV and XI of a twelve-count superseding indictment for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, three counts of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and illegal re-entry by a removed alien. See Crim. Dkt. 36. On January 24, 2013 Mr. Camacho pled guilty to Count Four of the Superseding Indictment-possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of actual methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(I)(A). Counsel for Mr. Camacho moved to withdraw from the case on June 23, 2013 because the attorney-client relationship had broken down. See Crim. Dkt. 292. After a hearing, the Court granted the motion to withdraw on July 3, 2013. Crim. Dkt. 294. Upon receiving new counsel Mr. Camacho filed a motion to withdraw his plea of guilty, which was denied by the Court on October 16, 2013. Crim. Dkts. 306, 321. On January 16, 2014 Mr. Camacho was sentenced to 360 months imprisonment and five years supervised release to run concurrently with the sentence in case No. 4:12-cr-15. Crim. Dkt. 341.

         Mr. Camacho appealed his conviction and sentence, arguing his innocence, and that intimidation and misrepresentations of the law by his attorney rendered his guilty plea invalid. See Crim. Dkt. 344. On April 23, 2014 the Ninth Circuit denied Mr. Camacho's appeal. See Crim Dkt. 374. Separately, based on retroactive changes to the sentencing guidelines, the Court later reduced Mr. Camacho's sentence from 360 to 291 months on November 17, 2015. See Crim. Dkt. 385. On June 27, 2016 Mr. Camacho filed his first motion to correct sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, the amended version of which is now before the Court. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny the motion without a hearing.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         1. Standard for 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         28 U.S.C. § 2255 provides four grounds on which a court may grant relief to a federal prisoner who challenges the imposition or length of his or her custody: (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.” Mr. Camacho challenges his sentence under the first ground for relief under Section 2255.

         Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings provides that a court 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.” 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). 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 2255. If the court does not dismiss the proceeding, the court then determines, pursuant to Rule 8, whether an evidentiary hearing is required. A hearing is not required if, in light of the record, the movant's allegations are “palpably incredible or patently frivolous.” Joseph v. United States, 583 Fed.Appx. 830, 831 (9th Cir. 2014)(citing United States v. Mejia-Mesa, 153 F.3d 925, 931 (9th Cir.1998)).

         2. Standard for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         To establish ineffective assistance of counsel, Mr. Camacho must show (1) that his “counsel's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, ” and (2) that there is a “reasonable probability” that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Conclusory allegations are insufficient to state a claim of ineffective counsel. Shah v. United States, 878 F.2d 1156, 1161 (9th Cir. 1989).

         When evaluating a defendant's representation, there is a strong presumption that counsel's performance falls “within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688. 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 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).

         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. Morrison, 477 U.S. 365, 381-82 (1986). Both ineffective assistance of counsel and prejudice must be found before a district court will find that a conviction or sentence “ ‘resulted from a breakdown in the adversa[ial] 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). If either element of the two-part Strickland test is absent, then a defendant has not met his or her burden. When ...


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