Cisneros-Cuevas v. USA

Filing 2

ORDER denying Petition to Vacate under 28 USC 2255. Because the Court finds Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2552 (2015) is inapplicable to Petitioner's circumstances, and because Petitioner waived his right to appeal or collaterally attack his sentence and procedurally defaulted the issue by failing to appeal, Court denies Petitioner's motion to vacate. Because reasonable jurists would not find Court's assessment of the claims debatable or wrong, Court declines to issue Petitioner a certificate of appealability. Signed by Judge Cynthia Bashant on 1/31/2017. Criminal Case Number: 15cr1837-BAS (All non-registered users served via U.S. Mail Service)(jah)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 11 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 12 13 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, 14 15 16 17 Case No. 15-cr-1837-BAS 16-cv-1741-BAS ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO VACATE SENTENCE UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 2255 v. JORGE CISNEROS-CUEVAS, [ECF No. 34] Defendant. 18 19 20 Defendant Jorge Cisneros-Cuevas’ motion to vacate presents the question of 21 whether his prior felony conviction for assault with great bodily injury, pursuant to 22 California Penal Code §§ 245(a)(1) and 12022.7, constitutes a “crime of violence” 23 under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines provision governing sentences for unlawful 24 reentry into the United States. U.S.S.G. § 2L1.2 (2002). 25 Because the Court finds Defendant waived his right to collaterally attack his 26 sentence and procedurally defaulted the issue, the Court DENIES the motion to 27 vacate. (ECF No. 34.) Furthermore, the Court finds Johnson v. United States, 135 S. 28 Ct. 2552 (2015) inapplicable to Defendant’s situation. –1– 15cr1837 1 I. BACKGROUND 2 On June 16, 2015, Defendant was arrested for attempted reentry after 3 deportation in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326. (ECF No. 1.) On July 30, 2015, 4 Defendant pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement. (ECF Nos. 14, 15.) 5 Pursuant to the “Pre-Indictment Fast Track Program” plea, the Government 6 agreed to recommend a -2 departure for “fast track” pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5K3.1. 7 (Plea Agreement § X(A).) In exchange, Defendant waived “to the full extent of the 8 law” any right to appeal or collaterally attack the conviction or sentence, if the Court 9 imposed a custodial sentence below the high end of the guideline range recommended 10 by the Government pursuant to the plea agreement. (Plea Agreement § XI.) 11 On May 24, 2016, the Court calculated Defendant’s guideline range, adding 12 +16 under U.S.S.G. § 2L1.2(b)(1)(A)(ii) for a prior “crime of violence” because 13 Defendant had been convicted of assault with great bodily injury pursuant to 14 California Penal Code § 245(a)(1), with an enhancement for personally inflicting 15 great bodily injury on the person of another under California Penal Code § 12022.7.1 16 The Court then sentenced Defendant to 57 months in custody, which was below the 17 high end of the guideline range recommended by the Government pursuant to the 18 plea agreement. (ECF No. 33.) Defendant neither objected to the 16-point 19 enhancement at the time of sentencing, nor appealed the conviction or sentence. 20 21 II. LEGAL STANDARD 22 Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a federal court may vacate, set aside or correct a 23 sentence “upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the 24 Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction 25 to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum 26 27 28 Defendant also had three prior convictions for felony illegal entry: one for which he was sentenced to 24 months, the second for which he was sentenced to 30 months, and the third for which he was sentenced to 48 months. (ECF No. 21.) 1 –2– 15cr1837 1 authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). 2 Pursuant to Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings “[t]he judge 3 who receives the motion must promptly examine it[,]” and “[i]f it plainly appears 4 from the motion, any attached exhibits, and the records from the prior proceedings 5 that the [defendant] is not entitled to relief the judge must dismiss the action and 6 direct the clerk to notify the moving party.” 7 To warrant relief, the defendant must demonstrate the existence of an error of 8 constitutional magnitude which had a substantial and injurious effect or influence on 9 the guilty plea or the jury’s verdict. Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 637 (1993); 10 see also United States v. Montalvo, 331 F.3d 1052, 1058 (9th Cir. 2003) (“We hold 11 now that Brecht’s harmless error standard applies to habeas cases under section 2255, 12 just as it does to those under section 2254.”) Relief is warranted only where a 13 defendant has shown “a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete 14 miscarriage of justice.” Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 346 (1974); see also 15 United States v. Gianelli, 543 F.3d 1178, 1184 (9th Cir. 2008). 16 17 III. DISCUSSION 18 A. Waiver of Appeal 19 A plea agreement in which a defendant relinquishes his right to seek relief, 20 direct or collateral, from his conviction or sentence is enforceable. United States v. 21 Abarca, 985 F.2d 1012, 1014 (9th Cir. 1993). “The fact that [a defendant] did not 22 foresee the specific issue that he now seeks to appeal does not place the issue outside 23 the scope of the waiver.” United States v. Johnson, 67 F.3d 200, 202 (9th Cir. 1995). 24 In this case, Defendant agreed to waive his right to attack the conviction or 25 sentence if the Court imposed a sentence contemplated by the plea agreement. (See 26 Plea Agreement ¶ XI.) The Court did so. Thus, Defendant has waived his right to file 27 this collateral attack on his sentence. 28 // –3– 15cr1837 1 B. Procedural Default 2 Claims that should have been raised on appeal, but were not, are procedurally 3 defaulted. See United States v. Bousley, 523 U.S. 614, 621-22 (1998) (“Habeas 4 review is an extraordinary remedy and ‘will not be allowed to service for an 5 appeal.’”). “Where a defendant has procedurally defaulted a claim by failing to raise 6 it on direct review, the claim may be raised in habeas only if the defendant can first 7 demonstrate either ‘cause’ and actual ‘prejudice’ . . . or that he is ‘actually innocent.’” 8 Id. at 622 (citations omitted). 9 In this case, Defendant does not argue that he is actually innocent. Instead, he 10 argues that his sentence was unconstitutional pursuant to Johnson v. United States, 11 135 S. Ct. 2552 (2015), a case that was decided before Defendant pled guilty in this 12 case. He failed to raise the issue in his negotiated plea agreement. He failed to raise 13 the issue at sentencing and he failed to raise the issue on appeal. Defendant provides 14 no cause for this failure. Thus, the issue is procedurally defaulted. Furthermore, as 15 discussed below, he cannot show actual prejudice from this failure. 16 17 C. Merits 18 Defendant argues that the increase of his guideline range 16 points because of 19 his prior “crime of violence” is unconstitutional after Johnson v. United States, 135 20 S. Ct. 2552 (2015). In Johnson, the Supreme Court found that the “residual clause” 21 of the Armed Career Criminal Act, which enhanced a sentence if a defendant had a 22 prior conviction for a crime that “otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious 23 potential risk of physical injury to another” was unconstitutionally vague. 24 In Dimaya v. Lynch, 803 F.3d 1110 (9th Cir. 2015), the Ninth Circuit extended 25 this holding to find the definition of “aggravated felony” in 18 U.S.C. § 16(b) to also 26 be unconstitutionally vague. In the context of an immigration hearing, a non-citizen 27 was removable if he had a prior “aggravated felony” defined, in part, as an offense 28 that “by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person –4– 15cr1837 1 or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.” 18 2 U.S.C. §16(b). Like the statute in Johnson, the Ninth Circuit found this definition 3 “combine[d] indeterminacy about how to measure the risk posed by a crime with 4 indeterminacy about how much risk it takes for the crime to qualify as a crime of 5 violence.” Dimaya, 803 F.3d at 1117 (internal quotation marks omitted). 6 Unlike the two statutes discussed above, the Guidelines section applied in this 7 case required no such calculation of risk. Section 2L1.2(b)(1)(A) enhances a 8 defendant’s sentence 16 points if he has a prior conviction for a “crime of violence,” 9 which is defined as an “aggravated assault . . . or any other offense under federal, 10 state, or local law that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of 11 physical force against the person of another.” U.S.S.G. § 2L1.2(b)(1), Application 12 Notes 2 (2002). The Guidelines enhancement does not require a court or defendant 13 to speculate as to whether the prior conviction poses “a serious potential risk of 14 physical injury” or “involves a substantial risk that physical force . . . may be used.” 15 This court, in Rodriguez v. United States, No. 16-cv-1052-JM, 15-cr-1292-JM, 16 2016 WL 6124501 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 20, 2016), dealt with this exact issue. The 17 Rodriguez Court concluded that “the ACCA definition of ‘violent felony’ is not 18 sufficiently analogous to the provision in § 2L1.2(b)(1)(A) to support a finding that 19 the 16-level enhancement provision is unconstitutionally vague.” Id. at *2. The court 20 concluded that, since the petitioner’s conviction for assault by means likely to 21 produce great bodily injury in violation of California Penal Code § 245(a)(1) is 22 enumerated as a crime of violence in the Application Notes to § 2L1.2, “it does not 23 raise the same vagueness issues as in Johnson [or Dimaya].” Id. at *3. 24 Defendant’s conviction for “assault with great bodily injury” under California 25 Penal Code § 245(a)(1) is an “aggravated assault” which is an enumerated offense 26 under the “crime of violence” definition. A conviction under California Penal Code 27 §§ 245(a)(1) and 12022.7 also required that Defendant “commit[] an assault upon the 28 person of another with a deadly weapon or instrument other than a firearm” and that –5– 15cr1837 1 Defendant “personally inflict[ed] great bodily injury” on another during this assault. 2 Therefore, the conviction had, as an element, the “use of physical force against the 3 person of another.” Thus, the prior conviction was a “crime of violence” under § 4 2L1.2(b)(1). For the reasons stated in Rodriguez, this conclusion does not run afoul 5 of Johnson or Dimaya. 6 7 IV. CONCLUSION & ORDER 8 Because this Court finds Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2552 (2015), is 9 inapplicable to Defendant’s circumstances, and because Defendant waived his right 10 to appeal or collaterally attack his sentence and procedurally defaulted the issue by 11 failing to appeal, the Court DENIES Defendant’s motion to vacate. (ECF No. 34.) 12 Because reasonable jurists would not find the Court’s assessment of the claims 13 debatable or wrong, the Court DECLINES to issue Defendant a certificate of 14 appealability. See Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). 15 IT IS SO ORDERED. 16 17 DATED: January 31, 2017 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 –6– 15cr1837

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