United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Danville Division
Jackson L. Kiser Senior United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Petitioner Raul
Magallanes-Flores ("Petitioner") Motion to Vacate
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [ECF No. 110], as well as
the government's Motion to Dismiss Petitioner's
§ 2255 motion [ECF No. 115]. Having fully considered the
record, the arguments of the parties, and the applicable law,
I will grant the government's motion and dismiss
Petitioner's motion to vacate.
STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL
October 18, 2012, Petitioner was indicted in a one-count
Indictment with conspiracy to distribute and possess with
intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841 (b)(1)(A)
& 846. [ECF No. 3.] Under the applicable law, the maximum
penalty for the charged offense was life imprisonment. As
part of normal plea negotiations with the government,
Petitioner was presented a plea offer in which he would agree
to plead guilty to Count 1 of the Indictment, subject to
certain agreements regarding the applicable Guidelines
calculations. Petitioner rejected this agreement, he claims,
because of the possibility of life imprisonment attendant to
a finding of guilt on Count 1.
January of 2016, Petitioner accepted the government's
second plea offer and entered a plea of guilty to conspiring
to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846
& 841(b)(1)(C), a lesser-included offense of Count 1 of
the Indictment. [See ECF No. 72.] The maximum
statutory penalty for this charge was imprisonment for 20
years and/or a fine of $1, 000, 00, which would be followed
by at least three years of supervised release. Id.
guilty plea hearing, I reviewed Petitioner's plea
agreement with him and Petitioner attested to the following
statement: "My plea of guilty is made knowingly and
voluntarily and without threat of any kind or without
promises other than those disclosed here in open court."
[ECF No. 94.] On July 14, 2016, Petitioner was sentenced to
235 months, which was the low-end of his applicable
Guidelines range. Petitioner appealed his conviction and
sentence, but his appeal was dismissed. United States v.
Magallanes-Flores, 687 Fed.Appx. 233 (4th Cir. 2017)
(per curiam) (unpublished), aff'd sub nom.
Magallanes-Flores v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 275
October 2, 2018, Petitioner filed a motion to vacate pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [ECF No. 110]. Petitioner asked the
Court to vacate his plea and permit him to accept the
government's initial plea offer, which he previously
rejected. Petitioner claims that his rejection of the first
offer was because his attorney failed to explain the
applicability of the Guidelines and the likelihood of
receiving the maximum term of imprisonment related to the
government's first offer (life imprisonment), which
resulted in him rejecting what he contends was a better
agreement with the government.
November of 2018, Petitioner presented the court with a copy
of the government's first offer in support of his claim
of ineffective assistance of counsel. [ECF No. 113.] After
reviewing the briefs and submissions of the parties, this
matter is ripe for disposition.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
and the public can presume that a defendant stands fairly and
finally convicted after conviction and exhaustion, or waiver,
of any right to appeal. See United States v. Frady,
456 U.S. 152, 164 (1982). Nevertheless, federal convicts in
custody may attack the validity of their federal sentences
via 28 U.S.C. § 2255. "Section 2255 cures
jurisdictional errors, constitutional violations, proceedings
that resulted in a complete miscarriage of justice, or events
that were inconsistent with the rudimentary demands of fair
procedure." United States v. Martinez-Romero,
No. 4:10-cr-20, 2012 WL 4470454, at *5 (W.D. Va. July 12,
2012) (citing United States v. Timmreck, 441 U.S.
780, 784 (1979) (Report & Recommendation), adopted
by 2012 WL 4459553 (W.D. Va. July 30, 2012). In a §
2255 motion to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence,
Petitioner bears the burden of proving that: (1) the district
court imposed a sentence in violation of the Constitution or
laws of the United States; (2) the court lacked jurisdiction
to impose a sentence; (3) the sentence exceeded the maximum
authorized by law; or (4) the sentence is otherwise subject
to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a) (2018).
Petitioner's § 2255 motion to vacate, Petitioner
contends he rejected the government's initial offer
because his attorney failed to explain how the Guidelines
would impact his sentence.
right to counsel includes the right to effective counsel.
McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759, 771 (1970). In
considering claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, it
is important to note that "effective representation is
not synonymous with errorless representation."
Springer v. Collins, 586 F.2d 329, 332 (4th Cir.
establish ineffective assistance of counsel, Petitioner must
satisfy the two-pronged test established by the Supreme Court
of the United States in Strickland v. Washington,
466 U.S. 668 (1984). Petitioner first must show that
"counsel's representation fell below an objective
standard of reasonableness." Id. at 688. The
measurement of counsel's reasonableness is based on
professional norms. Id. To satisfy prong one,