United States District Court, D. Oregon
J. Williams UNITED STATES ATTORNEY District of Oregon
Kathleen L. Bickers ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
Attorneys for the United States of America.
Navarrette-Aguilar Defendant Pro Se.
OPINION & ORDER
A. Hernandez United States District Judge.
7, 2013, a jury found Defendant Samuel Navarrette-Aguilar,
along with his co-defendant Saul Guzman-Arias, guilty of
three crimes: (1) heroin trafficking conspiracy, (2)
distribution of heroin, and (3) possession with intent to
distribute heroin. As part of the verdict, the jury answered
separate questions relating to the quantity of heroin and
whether the distribution of heroin resulted in the death of
another person. The jury found, beyond a reasonable doubt,
that the total quantity of heroin agreed to be distributed by
each Defendant and any other member of the conspiracy weighed
at least one kilogram and that the heroin possessed by each
Defendant with the intent to distribute weighed at least one
hundred grams. But, the jury also determined that the use of
the heroin distributed by the conspiracy, or by each
Defendant, did not result in the death of another person.
March 2013, Defendant was sentenced to twenty years (240
months) in prison, which was the mandatory minimum sentence
resulting from the jury's finding of a conspiracy
involving one kilogram or more of heroin. ECF 177 (Mar. 19,
2014 Judgment). On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that even
considering the evidence in a light most favorable to the
jury's verdict, the Government failed to prove a
conspiracy involving one kilogram or more of heroin.
United States v. Navarrette-Aguilar, 813 F.3d 785,
794-97 (9th Cir. 2015). Upon remand for re-sentencing,
Defendant was sentenced to 168 months of imprisonment. ECF
196 (Apr. 5, 2016 Judgment). An appeal from that Judgment was
unsuccessful. United States v. Navarrette-Aguilar,
693 Fed.Appx. 703 (9th Cir. 2017) (rejecting Defendant's
argument that his sentence was substantively unreasonable).
now moves under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate his sentence.
He also moves for appointment of counsel and requests an
evidentiary hearing. He contends that he received ineffective
assistance of counsel during plea negotiations, resulting in
his proceeding to trial without sufficient information to
make an intelligible decision regarding the Government's
plea offer. I deny the § 2255 motion and further deny
the motion for evidentiary hearing and appointment of
Section 2255 Motion Standards
§ 2255, a federal prisoner in custody may move the
sentencing court to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence
on the basis that the sentence violates the Constitution or
the laws of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a);
United States v. Withers, 638 F.3d 1055, 1062 (9th
Cir. 2011) (citing Davis v. United States, 417 U.S.
333 (1974)). The petitioner must demonstrate that an error of
constitutional magnitude had a substantial and injurious
effect or influence on the guilty plea or the jury's
verdict. Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 637
(1993); see also United States v. Montalvo, 331 F.3d
1052, 1058 (9th Cir. 2003) ("We hold now that
Brecht's harmless error standard applies to
habeas cases under section 2255, just as it does to those
under section 2254.").
district court must grant a hearing "[u]nless the motion
and the files and records of the case conclusively show that
the prisoner is entitled to no relief[.]" 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(b). In determining whether a § 2255 motion
requires a hearing, "the 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 (brackets and internal
quotation marks omitted). A district court may dismiss a
§ 2255 motion based on a facial review of the record
"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.'" Id. at 1062-63 (quoting
United States v. Schaflander, 743 F.2d 714, 717 (9th
Cir. 1984)); see also Baumann v. United States, 692
F.2d 565, 571 (9th Cir.1982) ("a hearing is mandatory
whenever the record does not affirmatively manifest the
factual or legal invalidity of the petitioner's
claims"). However, conclusory statements in a §
2255 motion are insufficient to require a hearing. United
States v. Hearst, 638 F.2d 1190, 1194 (9th Cir. 1980).
must be appointed to represent indigent defendants in §
2255 proceedings when "the complexities of the case are
such that denial of counsel would amount to a denial of due
process." Brown v. United States, 623 F.2d 54,
61 (9th Cir. 1980) (citing Dillon v. United States,
307 F.2d 445, 446-47 (9th Cir. 1962)). Otherwise, the request
for counsel is addressed to the "sound discretion of the
trial court." Brown, 623 F.2d at 61 (internal
quotation marks omitted). Factors guiding the court's
discretion as to whether to appoint counsel in habeas corpus
proceedings include the petitioner's ability to
articulate his claim, complexity of legal issues, and
likelihood of success on merits. Weygandt v. Look,
718 F.2d 952, 954 (9th Cir. 1983) (per curiam).
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Standards
use a two-part test to determine whether a defendant has
received constitutionally deficient assistance of counsel.
Premo v. Moore, 562 U.S. 115, 121 (2011). Under this
test, a defendant must prove that counsel's assistance
was deficient and that the deficient performance
prejudiced the defense. Id.; see also Schurz v.
Ryan, 730 F.3d 812, 815 (9th Cir. 2013) (defendant must
show not only that counsel's performance was deficient
but that the deficient performance prejudiced the defendant).
prove the deficiency of counsel's performance, the
defendant must show counsel made errors so serious that her
or his "representation fell below an objective standard
of reasonableness" under prevailing professional norms.
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688 (1984)).
The court must inquire "whether counsel's assistance
was reasonable considering all the circumstances" at the
time of the assistance. Id.
assessing whether counsel's performance was deficient,
courts must "'indulge a strong presumption that
counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of
reasonable professional assistance' and make every effort
'to reconstruct the circumstances of counsel's
challenged conduct, and to evaluate the conduct from
counsel's perspective at the time.'" Hibbler
v. Benedetti, 693 F.3d 1140, 1149 (9th Cir. 2012)
(quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689). Ultimately
the defendant's "burden is to show 'that counsel
made errors so serious that counsel was not functioning as
the 'counsel' guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth
Amendment.'" Harrington v. Richter, 562
U.S. 86, 104 (2011) (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at
satisfy the prejudice prong under Strickland, a
defendant must show 'a reasonable probability that, but
for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the
proceeding would have been different.'" Saesee
v. McDonald, 725 F.3d 1045, 1048 (9th Cir. 2013)
(quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694). "'A
reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to
undermine confidence in the outcome.'" Id.
at 1048 (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 695).
court "need not determine whether counsel's
performance was deficient before examining the prejudice
suffered by the defendant[.]" Strickland, 466
U.S. at 697. "If it is easier to dispose of an
ineffectiveness claim on the ground of lack of sufficient