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United States v. Mata-Soto

United States District Court, D. Kansas

April 19, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JUAN MATA-SOTO, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          KATHRYN H. VRATIL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On December 18, 2009, the Court sentenced defendant to life in prison. This matter is before the Court on defendant's Motion To Withdraw Guilty Plea Pursuant To Rule 11 (Doc. #494) filed March 26, 2018, which the Court construes as a second or successive motion to vacate sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For reasons stated below, the Court dismisses defendant's motion for lack of jurisdiction.

         Factual Background

         On April 13, 2009, defendant pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A)(viii) and 846. On December 18, 2009, the Court sentenced defendant to life in prison.[1]Defendant did not appeal.

         On December 20, 2010, defendant filed a pro se motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 To Vacate, Set Aside Or Correct Sentence By A Person In Federal Custody (Doc. #325). Liberally construed, defendant's motion asserted that (1) the Court should have suppressed the statements of his co-defendants because officers violated the Fourth Amendment in obtaining the statements; (2) at sentencing, the Court erred in calculating his guideline range by considering his proffer, the statements of his co-defendants and evidence which officers found at a home that two co-conspirators rented; and (3) he did not knowingly enter a guilty plea because the Court did not conduct an adequate plea colloquy. Id. at 4, 15-27. On July 18, 2011, the Court overruled defendant's motion and denied a certificate of appealability. See Memorandum And Order (Doc. #358). The Court found that the plea agreement's waiver of collateral challenges barred defendant's claims and that the claims lacked substantive merit. See id. at 5-10. The Tenth Circuit dismissed defendant's appeal for failure to prosecute. See Order (Doc. #391) filed June 8, 2012.

         On December 4, 2013, defendant filed a Petition For Writ Of Error Audita Querela To Invalidate Judgement [sic] For Breach Of Plea (Doc. #417). On December 12, 2013, the Court overruled defendant's motion. See Memorandum And Order (Doc. #418). The Tenth Circuit dismissed defendant's appeal based on the plea agreement's waiver of appellate rights. See Order (Doc. #427) filed June 4, 2014.

         In the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, defendant sought leave to file a successive Section 2255 motion to assert a claim based on newly discovered evidence. Defendant maintained that (1) counsel failed to advise him that he could enter an open plea and receive a reduced sentence without cooperating and (2) counsel promised that he would receive a sentence of ten years. On May 9, 2017, the Tenth Circuit denied defendant's request for leave to file a successive Section 2255 motion. See Order (Doc. #484).

         On August 7, 2017, defendant filed a motion for relief from judgment, which the Court construed as a second or successive Section 2255 motion. Defendant argued that counsel (1) coerced him to plead guilty by a promise that he would receive a sentence of 135 months in prison, (2) misinformed him of his potential sentencing exposure and (3) allowed him to unknowingly waive his appellate rights. See Motion For Relief From Judgment (Doc. #486) at 3-12. Defendant also maintains that at the change of plea hearing, in violation of Rule 11, the Court allowed defendant to enter a plea under the mistaken belief that he would receive a sentence within the range of 135 to 262 months. See id. at 4, 7-8. On January 24, 2018, the Court dismissed defendant's motion. See Memorandum And Order (Doc. #487). Defendant appealed and his appeal remains pending.

         On March 26, 2018, defendant filed the instant motion to withdraw his plea. Motion To Withdraw Guilty Plea Pursuant To Rule 11 (Doc. #494). Defendant maintains that his plea was invalid under Rule 11, Fed. R. Crim. P., because at the change of plea hearing, the prosecution and the Court erroneously told him that he would receive a sentence within the range of 135 to 262 months. Id. at 2-8.

         Analysis

         I. Basis For Relief Requested In Defendant's Motion

         Initially, the Court addresses how to construe defendant's motion. Although defendant has filed his motion under Rule 11, Fed. R. Crim. P., the Court must determine if the motion is in fact an unauthorized second or successive petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See United States v. Nelson, 465 F.3d 1145, 1147 (10th Cir. 2006) (relief sought, not pleading's title, determines whether pleading is Section 2255 motion); United States v. Torres, 282 F.3d 1241, 1242, 1246 (10th Cir. 2002) (to allow petitioner to avoid bar against successive habeas petitions by styling petition under different name would severely erode procedural restraints under Sections 2244(b)(3) and 2255).

         At this stage, the Court lacks jurisdiction to grant relief under Rule 11. See Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(e) (after court imposes sentence, defendant may not withdraw plea of guilty or nolo contendere, and plea may be set aside only on direct appeal or collateral attack). Because defendant raised the issue of the adequacy of the plea proceeding in his original Section 2255 motion, the Court evaluates defendant's motion under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court deems an issue raised in a Rule 60(b) motion to be part of a second or successive Section 2255 motion unless it (1) challenges only a procedural ruling (such as timeliness) which precluded a merits determination of the habeas application or (2) challenges a defect in the integrity of the federal habeas proceeding, provided that such a challenge does not itself lead inextricably to a merits-based attack on the disposition of a prior habeas petition. Spitznas v. Boone, 464 F.3d 1213, 1215-16 (10th Cir. 2006). An issue should be considered part of a second or successive petition “if it in substance or effect asserts or reasserts a federal basis for relief from the petitioner's underlying conviction.” Id. at 1215.

         Defendant argues that his plea was invalid under Rule 11 because the prosecution and the Court erroneously told him that he would receive a sentence within the range of 135 to 262 months. Defendant asserts a defect in the “plea proceeding, ” not in the integrity of the prior Section 2255 proceeding. Accordingly, the Court treats his motion as a second or successive Section 2255 motion. See United States v. Williams, 790 F.3d 1059, 1068 (10th Cir. 2015) (motion to withdraw guilty plea fell squarely within definition of second or successive ...


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