United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division
Hon. Michael F. Urbanski United States District Judge
Anthony Lee Martinez, a federal prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Martinez argues that his counsel rendered ineffective assistance in violation of the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The United States filed a motion to dismiss, and the time for Martinez to respond expired, making the matter ripe for disposition. After reviewing the record, the court grants the United States' motion to dismiss and dismisses the § 2255 motion.
From about May 2012 through July 2012, Martinez conspired with others to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute fifty grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine while already on supervised release from another federal conviction. During this time, Martinez engaged in multiple, specific acts of distribution, including providing methamphetamine to another person. (Plea Proffer, ECF No. 8, at 1; Plea Hr'gTr., ECFNo.45, at31:14-32:18.)
The United States filed a single-count Information pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 7(b), charging Martinez with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute fifty grams or more of actual methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(b)(1)(A) (the "Information"). The United States then filed an Information pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851 (the "§ 851 Information"), subjecting Martinez to enhanced penalties due to his prior felony drug conviction. (§ 851 Information, ECF No. 9.) With this enhancement, Martinez faced a mandatory twenty-year minimum term of imprisonment for the crime charged in the Information.
After negotiating with the United States, Martinez agreed to plead guilty to the lesser included offense of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fifty grams or more of a mixture containing methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(b)(1)(B). The statutory penalty for this lesser included offense is five to forty years without a prior felony drug conviction, and ten years to life imprisonment with a prior felony drug conviction.
Martinez and the United States agreed that Martinez should serve a fifteen-year sentence for his crime. To that end, Martinez and the United States executed a plea agreement pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C), agreeing to, inter alia, a fifteen year sentence. While the plea agreement recited that the statutory penalty included a term of supervised release, the specific term was left to the court to decide.
During the plea hearing, Martinez repeatedly expressed his understanding and acceptance to the plea agreement's terms, including the agreed-upon fifteen year sentence. The court further informed Martinez that he faced between an eight year and life term of supervised release and explained what the term "supervised release" meant. After its colloquy with Martinez and hearing the United States' proffer of evidence, the court concluded that Martinez's guilty plea was knowing, voluntary, and supported by the evidence. The court took Martinez's guilty plea under advisement and ordered the preparation of a Presentence Investigation Report to determine the applicable sentencing range under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The Presentence Investigation Report contained an advisory sentencing guideline range of 120 to 135 months. Because the Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea was outside the guideline range, the court was required to provide justifiable reasons for accepting the plea agreement. See United States Sentencing Guideline § 6B 1.2(c)(2). At the first sentencing hearing on February 5, 2014, the court ordered the government to respond in writing to certain assertions made in Martinez's sentencing memorandum and continued the sentencing.
During the second sentencing hearing on April 23, 2014, the United States presented evidence of its investigation into Martinez's criminal conduct, and the court and parties repeatedly discussed the sentencing factors under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), Martinez's desire to receive the agreed-upon fifteen-year sentence, the applicable term of supervised release, and the United States' decision not to file a motion for substantial assistance in Martinez's case. (Second Sent'g Hr'g Tr., ECFNo. 46, at 6-7, 9, 15-16, 18-19, 30-31, 51, 53-54, 62, 67-68.) Although the stipulated fifteen-year sentence was approximately three to five years longer than the guidelines sentence, the court found justifiable reasons to accept Martinez's guilty plea and imposed the fifteen year sentence, in accordance with Rule 11(c)(1)(C) and United States Sentencing Guideline § 6B 1.2(c)(2). The court also sentenced Martinez to eight years' supervised release. The court's reasoning was stated on the record and set forth with specificity in the statement of reasons form. Martinez did not appeal.
In the § 2255 motion, Martinez presents four claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Martinez argues counsel was ineffective by:
1. Verbally misinforming him that his sentence would be ten years based on the guideline range, mandatory minimum, and purported ...