United States District Court, E.D. Washington
ORDER DISMISSING DEFENDANT'S § 2255
SALVADOR MENDOZA, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
two-week trial, a jury found Defendant Jason Youker guilty of
thirty-four counts arising out of a drug-distribution
conspiracy, and this Court sentenced him to twenty years'
imprisonment. ECF Nos. 501, 583. After numerous motions
attacking the judgment and an unsuccessful appeal, Defendant
brought a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his
sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See ECF
No. 687. The Court determined that most of the grounds on
which Defendant sought relief were meritless but directed the
Government to respond to two of Defendant's allegations.
The Government responded, and Defendant replied. ECF No. 698;
ECF No. 720-1 at 35-55. It is now clear that Defendant is not
entitled to any relief on his petition, and the Court
therefore dismisses it without an evidentiary hearing.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2225(b).
prisoner incarcerated pursuant to the judgment of a federal
court may seek habeas corpus relief by petitioning the
sentencing court to vacate, set aside, or correct the
sentence if it “was imposed in violation of the
Constitution or laws of the United States.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(a). Where the “motion and the files and
records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is
entitled to no relief, ” the Court may dismiss the
petition without an evidentiary hearing. Id. at
§ 2255(b); Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S. 63,
74 n.4 (1977). In considering whether to summarily dismiss a
§ 2255 motion, the question is whether “the movant
has made specific factual allegations that, if true, state a
claim on which relief could be granted.” United
States v. Schaflander, 743 F.2d 714, 717 (9th Cir.
1984). The Court must liberally construe a pro se
§ 2255 motion. Orona v. United States, 826 F.3d
1196, 1199 (9th Cir. 2016).
screening Defendant's petition, the Court determined that
the record conclusively established that seven out of the
nine grounds on which he sought relief were meritless.
See ECF No. 693 at 26. The Court directed the
Government to respond to grounds five and six of the
petition. Id. The Government did so, and Defendant
submitted a reply. ECF No. 698; ECF No. 720-1 at 35-55.
Having reviewed these filings and the record in this matter,
it is now clear that Defendant is not entitled to relief on
either basis, and an evidentiary hearing is unnecessary.
Ground Five: Franks Issue
five of the petition alleges law enforcement omitted material
facts from affidavits used to obtain search warrants from
which evidence used against Defendant at trial was obtained.
See ECF No. 687 at 13-14; ECF No. 720-1 at 46.
Specifically, Defendant alleges that officers omitted from
their affidavits the fact that after controlled purchases of
narcotics from Defendant, they allowed confidential
informants to distribute a portion of the drugs so as to
avoid alerting Defendant of the investigation. ECF No. 687 at
argument falls squarely within the doctrine of Franks v.
Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978). Franks held that
under the Fourth Amendment, a criminal defendant may
challenge the validity of a search warrant, and move to
suppress evidence, if the affidavits presented to the issuing
magistrate included intentionally or recklessly false
statements or omissions that were material to the finding of
probable cause. See United States v. Lefkowitz, 618
F.2d 1313, 1317 (9th Cir. 1980) (citing Franks, 438
U.S. at 154); United States v. Stanert, 762 F.2d
775, 780-81 (9th Cir. 1985).
it is well settled that, absent exceptional circumstances,
“error on a fourth amendment issue does not support a
writ of habeas corpus” such as Defendant seeks here.
Newman, 790 F.3d at 879 (quoting Hampton v.
Wyant, 296 F.3d 560, 563 (7th Cir. 2002)). The Court is
accordingly prohibited from considering Defendant's
Franks argument unless he was denied a “full
and fair opportunity” to assert that claim at trial.
ECF No. 720-1 at 54; United States v. Hearst, 638
F.2d 1190, 1196 (9th Cir. 1980) (citing Stone v.
Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 494 (1976)); Newman v.
Wengler, 790 F.3d 876, 878 (9th Cir. 2015). The critical
inquiry is whether he had the opportunity to
litigate his claim, not whether he in fact took advantage of
that opportunity, “or even whether the claim was
correctly decided.” Ortiz-Sandoval v. Gomez,
81 F.3d 891, 899 (9th Cir. 1996).
conclusory assertions that he was denied such an opportunity
are unpersuasive. See ECF No. 687 at 14. Defendant
was provided thousands of pages of discovery, including
fifteen search warrants and accompanying affidavits
describing at least one instance where a confidential
informant was allowed to distribute narcotics purchased from
Defendant. See ECF No. 698 at 4, 10. And to
substantiate his Franks claim, Defendant appears to
recount his memory of several of those transactions,
asserting he sold the informants more drugs than law
enforcement reported in their affidavits. See ECF
No. 720-1 at 2-6. Defendant brought repeated suppression
motions prior to trial-including one styled as a
Franks motion. See ECF Nos. 147, 156, 158,
295, 378, 398. Though he obviously had access at that time to
the evidence on which he relies now, he did not raise this
argument then or on appeal. See ECF No. 655 at 2.
Defendant fails to show that he was denied a full and fair
opportunity to assert this claim prior to his § 2255
motion and thus, he is barred from raising it now.
Hearst, 638 F.2d at 1196; Stone, 428 U.S.
record conclusively establishes that Defendant is not
entitled to relief on ground five of his petition, the Court
dismisses it without an evidentiary hearing. 28 U.S.C. §
Ground Six: Brady Issue
sixth ground of Defendant's petition alleges the
Government withheld or delayed the disclosure of several
items of evidence. See ECF No. 687 at 14-17. Just as
above, Defendant asserts that law enforcement knowingly
permitted confidential informants to distribute narcotics but
failed to disclose they had done so. Id. at 14-15.
Defendant also claims that the Government delayed disclosing
that a confidential ...