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Robles-Garcia v. United States

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

October 11, 2013

GERMAN ROBLES-GARCIA, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING PETITIONER'S MOTION PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2255

MARK W. BENNETT, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This case is before me on petitioner German Robles-Garcia's Pro Se Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 To Vacate, Set Aside, Or Correct Sentence By A Person In Federal Custody (Civ. Docket no. 4), filed on April 9, 2013. Robles-Garcia claims that the attorney who represented him at the trial level provided him with ineffective assistance of counsel. The respondent denies that Robles-Garcia is entitled to any relief on his claims.

A. The Criminal Proceedings

On April 22, 2010, Robles-Garcia was charged by a Second Superseding Indictment (Crim. Docket no. 74), with conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine or 500 grams or a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and to distribute 5 grams or more of actual methamphetamine or 50 grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine. On May 21, 2010, the prosecution filed a Third Superseding Indictment (Crim. Docket no. 123), charging Robles-Garcia with kidnaping in addition to the drug conspiracy. On June 1, 2010, Robles-Garcia appeared in front of then-Chief Magistrate Judge Paul A. Zoss to enter a plea of not guilty to the Third Superseding Indictment. See Crim. Docket no. 136.

The prosecution filed a Fourth Superseding Indictment (Crim. Docket no. 262), on August 18, 2010, amending the drug conspiracy count to include distribution of 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine and 500 grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine and distribution of 5 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine. The Fourth Superseding Indictment also clarified that the alleged kidnap victim was held for ransom or otherwise, to force him to deliver currency, including drug profits, to Robles-Garcia. See Crim. Docket no. 262. On August 19, 2010, Robles-Garcia, by counsel, filed a Written Waiver of Personal Appearance At Arraignment (Crim. Docket no. 266), entering a written plea of not guilty to the Fourth Superseding Indictment.

On August 20, 2010, Robles-Garcia proceeded to trial by jury. See Crim. Docket no. 274. On August 27, 2010, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on the drug conspiracy charge and a verdict of guilty on the kidnaping charge. See Crim. Docket no. 285.

Robles-Garcia appeared before me on December 21, 2010, for a sentencing hearing. See Crim. Docket no. 428. By counsel, Robles-Garcia objected to the application of a role enhancement. See Sent. Trans. at 3. The government objected to the drug quantity scoring, arguing for an amount over that recommended by the PSIR. See Sent. Trans. at 3. After consideration of the evidence, based on my finding by a preponderance of the evidence that Robles-Garcia was an organizer or leader in the kidnaping because his involvement in the kidnaping was otherwise extensive, I overruled Robles-Garcia's objection to application of the four-level increase for his role in the offense. See Sent. Trans. at 29-30. I also overruled the government's objection to drug quantity on the basis that the government had not established that the additional amount requested was related to relevant conduct or was reasonably forseeable. See Sent. Trans. at 31. I determined that Robles-Garcia's total offense level was 42, his criminal history category was 1, and that the guidelines range was 360 to life. See Sent. Trans. at 31. After review and consideration of the § 3553(a) factors, I sentenced Robles-Garcia to 600 months imprisonment on the drug conspiracy and 600 months on the kidnaping conviction, to run concurrently. See Sent. Trans. at 41-43.

On December 30, 2010, by counsel, Robles-Garcia filed a Notice of Appeal (Crim. Docket no. 406) to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Robles argued that there had been insufficient evidence upon which to convict him and that his trial counsel had been ineffective. See Crim. Docket no. 434, at 3-4. He also argued that I had considered unreliable evidence in the determination of his sentence and had erroneously applied the leader-organizer enhancement. See Crim. Docket no. 434, at 4. Robles-Garcia further argued that his sentence violated the Eighth Amendment guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment. See Crim. Docket no. 434, at 4.

On December 9, 2011, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals entered its Opinion (Crim. Docket no. 434), concluding that there was sufficient evidence to support Robles-Garcia's conviction for conspiring to distribute less than 50 grams of methamphetamine mixture and to support his conviction for conspiracy to distribute greater than 50 grams of actual methamphetamine. See Crim. Docket no. 434, at 7. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled that I did not err in considering the testimony of Officer Hansen, in determining the appropriate sentence for Robles-Garcia, because his testimony had sufficient indicia of reliability and Robles-Garcia had the opportunity to rebut such testimony. See Crim. Docket no. 434, at 10. Further, the court held that I did not err in applying the leader-organizer enhancement in Robles-Garcia's case. See Crim. Docket no. 434, at 11. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals did not consider Robles-Garcia's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel because it would have required them to look outside of the record on appeal. See Crim. Docket no. 434, at 12. The court also held that Robles-Garcia's sentence did not violate the Eighth Amendment because his two concurrent 600-month terms were well within the punishments prescribed by statute. See Crim. Docket no. 434, at 13.

Robles-Garcia, by counsel, filed a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, on May 17, 2012. (Crim. Docket no. 442). The writ was denied on April 16, 2012. See Crim. Docket no. 446.

B. The § 2255 Motion

On April 9, 2013, Robles-Garcia filed a Pro Se Motion Under § 2255 To Vacate, Set Aside, Or Correct Sentence By A Person In Federal Custody (Civ. docket no. 4). On April 10, 2013, the respondent filed an Answer (Civ. docket no. 5). On July 15, 2013, counsel appointed to represent Robles-Garcia in this matter filed a Brief In Support Of Defendant's Motion To Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence (Civ. docket no. 7). The respondent filed its Response and Memorandum In Support Of Government's Response To Defendant's Motion (Civ. docket no. 10), on July 31, 2013. By counsel, Robles-Garcia, filed a Reply To The Government's Response (Civ. Docket no. 11), on September 4, 2013.

II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

A. Standards For § 2255 Relief

Section 2255 of Title 28 of the United States Code provides as follows:

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground [1] that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or [2] that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or [3] that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or [4] is otherwise subject to ...

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