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Martinez v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

July 16, 2019

ANGEL MARTINEZ, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          OPINION & ORDER

          Michael R. Barrett, United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court upon Petitioner Angel Martinez's Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody. (Doc. 101). The Government filed a Response in Opposition. (Doc. 109). Petitioner filed a Reply. (Doc. 113). Thereafter, Petitioner filed a Motion pursuant the Rule 15(d), Fed. Civil P. to the Supplement Mr. Martinez Reply to the Government Response (Doc. 116); a Supplemental Brief (Doc. 118); and Motion to Expedite (Doc. 123). Also pending before the Court is Petitioner's Motion to Appoint Counsel. (Doc. 117).

         For good cause shown, Petitioner's Motion pursuant the Rule 15(d), Fed. Civil P. to the Supplement Mr. Martinez Reply to the Government Response (Doc. 116) is GRANTED. The Court will consider Petitioner's Supplement in its decision on whether to grant Petitioner's Petition.

         I. PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

         Petitioner was indicted along with two co-defendants on two violations: conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and five kilograms or more of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)(i) and (ii), and 21 U.S.C.§ 846 (Count One); and possession with intent to distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B), 846, and 18 U.S.C. § 2 (Count Four). (Doc. 14). Defendant pled guilty to Count One of the Indictment. (Doc. 49). The maximum penalty for the violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, 21 U.S.C. §841(a)(1) and 21 U.S.C. §841(b)(1)(A)(i) and (ii) is up to life imprisonment, a $10, 000, 000 fine, at least five years of supervised release, a mandatory $100 special assessment, and restitution. The mandatory minimum term of imprisonment is ten years. The Court sentenced Petitioner to 120 months in prison, waived the fine, imposed the special assessment, and imposed a term of Supervised Release of five years. (Doc. 82). The United States dismissed without prejudice Count Four of the Indictment. (Id.).

         Petitioner filed an appeal (Doc. 69), but the Sixth Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed by the Court. (Doc. 95). Specifically, the Sixth Circuit found that the Court did not err in finding that Petitioner was not entitled to a safety-valve reduction under U.S.S.G. § 5C1.2.

         Petitioner sets forth two grounds for relief in his petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. First, Petitioner argues that his trial counsel was ineffective because counsel failed to advise him to accept the Government's first plea offer, never explained the terms and conditions of his first plea offer, and never told him about the potential consequences that he would face if he did not accept the first plea offer. Petitioner explains that as a result, he wound up accepting the Government's second plea offer which required him to plead guilty to conspiring a greater amount of heroin and an additional five kilograms of cocaine. Petitioner explains that under the second plea offer, the Court was required to impose a minimum sentence of ten years, but under the first plea offer, it was likely that Petitioner would have only been sentenced to a five-year sentence based on the guideline range. Petitioner states that counsel failed to adequately investigate his case before advising him to reject the first plea offer because counsel did not obtain his case file from a previous attorney, or review Petitioner's grand jury testimony wherein Petitioner admitted distributing six ounces of heroin to one of his co-defendants. Petitioner explains that if his counsel had done an adequate investigation, he would have found out that Petitioner's grand jury testimony could have been used against him if he chose to go to trial.

         Second, Petitioner argues that his trial counsel was ineffective in advising him that if he accepted the Government's second plea offer, he would not be held responsible for the entire drug amounts listed in the second plea offer. Petitioner explains that his trial attorney told him that if he accepted the Government's second plea offer, he would ask the Government to recommend the safety valve reduction, and if his request was denied, Petitioner could withdraw his guilty plea. However, Petitioner explains, the Government opposed his request for a safety valve reduction and the Court rejected his request. Petitioner explains that the Government's evidence would have supported a conviction for conspiracy to distribute six ounces of heroin, but would not have supported a conviction of conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and five kilograms or more of cocaine. Petitioner explains further that even if he had been found guilty of both Counts One and Four at trial, his sentencing guideline range would have been 120 to 121 months-which is about the same amount of time the second plea offer allowed the Court to impose. Petitioner states that if counsel had not given him bad advice, he would have rejected the second plea offer and gone to trial.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A prisoner seeking relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 must allege either “(1) an error of constitutional magnitude; (2) a sentence imposed outside the statutory limits; or (3) an error of fact or law that was so fundamental as to render the entire proceeding invalid.” Mallett v. United States, 334 F.3d 491, 496-97 (6th Cir. 2003) (citing Weinberger v. U.S., 268 F.3d 346, 351 (6th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 535 U.S. 967).

         “In reviewing a § 2255 motion in which a factual dispute arises, ‘the habeas court must hold an evidentiary hearing to determine the truth of the petitioner's claims.'” Valentine v. United States, 488 F.3d 325, 333 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Turner v. United States, 183 F.3d 474, 477 (6th Cir.1999)). However, no hearing is required “if the petitioner's allegations cannot be accepted as true because they are contradicted by the record, inherently incredible, or conclusions rather than statements of fact.” Id.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Motion to Appoint Counsel

         Petitioner has moved for this Court to appoint counsel to present his legal position. Petitioner explains that he lacks knowledge of the law and his language barrier ...


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