Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Lamas

United States District Court, D. Kansas

May 17, 2017

ROGELIO AMADA LAMAS, Defendant. Civil No. 16-2139


          CARLOS MURGUIA United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the court upon defendant Rogelio Amada Lamas's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (Doc. 214) and defendant's motions for appointment of counsel and an extension of time to file a reply (Docs. 219 and 220). Defendant alleges ineffective assistance of counsel. For the reasons set forth below, the court denies defendant's § 2255 motion in part, and takes one claim under advisement.

         I. Factual Background

         On July 15, 2013, during a change of plea hearing, defendant informed the court that he had not had time to review the full plea agreement. Three days later, the court granted defendant's motion to continue his jury trial, and scheduled the trial for September 16, 2013. On September 10, 2013, defendant first filed a notice of intent to assert an affirmative defense, and later informed the court of his intent to plead guilty.

         On September 11, 2013, defendant pleaded guilty, pursuant to a written agreement, to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine, a controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)(viii), and 846. The government agreed to recommend a sentence within the applicable guideline range as well as recommend that defendant receive a two-level reduction to his applicable offense level for acceptance of responsibility under U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(a). The parties' plea agreement did not mention a third level reduction under § 3E1.1(b).

         Defendant's total offense level was determined to be 39, and the court ultimately imposed a 204-month sentence. Defendant filed his § 2255 motion on March 3, 2016.

         II. Legal Standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a), a prisoner in custody has the right to challenge a sentence imposed by the district court if it is in violation of the Constitution or other law of the United States, or if the sentence imposed was in excess of the maximum authorized by law. If the court finds that defendant is being held in violation of federal law, the court “shall vacate and set the judgment aside and shall discharge the [defendant] or resentence him or grant a new trial or correct the sentence . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b).

         III. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         Defendant's § 2255 motion contains four claims alleging ineffective assistance of counsel; however, the second claim regarding the “safety valve” is crossed out. His remaining claims are that trial counsel failed to properly advise defendant about: (1) the option to plead guilty without a plea agreement (“open” plea); (2) the timeliness for entering a guilty plea; and (3) relevant conduct for sentencing purposes. In a supplement filed with his motion, defendant also claims his sentencing counsel rendered ineffective assistance for not making proper objections and arguments.

         The court applies the standard identified in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688 (1984), when determining whether a habeas petitioner's counsel provided ineffective assistance. See Romano v. Gibson, 278 F.3d 1145, 1151 (10th Cir. 2002) (applying Strickland ). Under Strickland, a petitioner bears the burden to demonstrate that (1) counsel's performance “fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, ” and (2) “there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688, 694. “[T]here is no reason for a court deciding an ineffective assistance claim to . . . address both components of the inquiry if the [petitioner] makes an insufficient showing on one . . . . If it is easier to dispose of an ineffectiveness claim on the ground of lack of sufficient prejudice . . . that course should be followed.” Id. at 697.

         a. Defendant's Claims Against Trial Counsel Regarding the Plea Agreement

         The Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel “extends to the plea-bargaining process.” United States v. Watson, 766 F.3d 1219, 1225 (10th Cir. 2014) (quoting Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. 156, 162 (2012)). When a defendant claims that counsel's deficient performance caused him to reject a plea offer and proceed to trial, he must show “a reasonable probability that a plea offer would have been presented to the court . . ., that the court would have accepted its terms, and that the conviction or sentence, or both, under the offer's terms would have been less severe than under the judgment and sentence that in fact were imposed.” Lafler, 566 U.S. at 164.

         To establish prejudice under Strickland, defendant must begin by proving that a plea agreement was formally offered by the government. See United States v. Nguyen, 619 F. App'x 136, 141 (3d Cir. 2015) (petitioner's claim that he rejected favorable plea offer based on counsel's deficient performance necessarily fails if plea agreement was never formally offered by the government); United States v. Barajas, No. 10-20077-02-JWL, 2016 WL 427734, at *1 (D. Kan. Feb. 4, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.