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Estrada v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

June 16, 2015

RICARDO ESTRADA, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

ORDER GRANTING PETITIONER'S MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME AND DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO VACATE, SET ASIDE, OR CORRECT SENTENCE

BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner Ricardo Estrada's ("Estrada") motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Dkt. 1). The Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in opposition to the motion and the remainder of the file and denies the motion for the reasons stated herein.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On August 3, 2011, Estrada was arrested. Dkt. 1. The following day, Estrada was charged by criminal complaint. Id. On August 18, 2011, Estrada was indicted on the following eight counts: (1) conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A); (2) distribution of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C); (3) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A); (4) distribution of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A); (5) felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2); (6) distribution of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A); (7) distribution of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B); and (8) possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A). CR11-5413, Dkt. 16.

Estrada's attorney negotiated a plea agreement. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Estrada pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B) and to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(1). CR11-5413, Dkts. 86, 90. Estrada had a guideline sentencing range of 188 to 235 months. CR11-5413, Dkt. 103 at 1. The plea agreement included a joint recommendation of twelve years imprisonment. CR11-5413, Dkt. 90 at 6. On August 5, 2013, the Court sentenced Estrada to twelve years in custody. CR11-5413, Dkt. 112.

On July 28, 2014, Estrada filed the instant motion for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Dkt. 1. On November 7, 2014, the Government responded. Dkt. 5. On May 8, 2015, Estrada filed an unopposed motion for an extension of time to file his reply.[1] Dkt. 13. On May 29, 2015, Estrada replied. Dkt. 16. On June 11, 2015, Estrada filed a declaration in support of his reply. Dkt. 18.

II. DISCUSSION

Estrada seeks to reduce his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Dkt. 1.

A. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, the Court may grant relief to a federal prisoner who challenges the imposition or length of his incarceration on the following grounds: (1) the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States; (2) the Court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence; (3) the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law; or (4) the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). A petition under section 2255 for ineffective assistance of counsel is considered a collateral attack. See, e.g., Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 676 (1984).

B. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

The Sixth Amendment guarantees a criminal defendant the right to effective assistance of counsel. Id. at 687. The Court evaluates ineffective assistance of counsel claims under the two-prong test set forth in Strickland. Under Strickland, Estrada must prove (1) that his counsel's performance was deficient, and (2) that this deficient performance was prejudicial. Id.

To establish deficient performance, Estrada must show that his counsel's representation "fell below an objective standard of reasonableness." Id. at 688. The Court must apply a "strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the "wide range of reasonable professional assistance." Id. at 689. With respect to prejudice, Estrada must demonstrate "a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Id. at 694.

Here, Estrada claims that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his counsel (1) failed to file a motion to suppress; (2) failed to argue sentencing entrapment; (3) failed to argue that a traffic stop was pretextual; and (4) failed to argue that the firearm was not used in furtherance of a drug ...


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