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United States v. Reyna-Medina

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division

June 5, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
GUADALUPE REYNA-MEDINA. Defendant/Movant. CA. No. 2:16-344

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN D. RAINEY SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant/Movant Guadalupe Reyna-Medina (Reyna-Medina) filed a motion vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. D.E. 26. Pending before the Court is the Government's motion for summary judgment based upon Reyna-Medina's waiver of her right to collaterally attack her sentence (D.E. 37), to which Reyna-Medina filed a reply (D.E. 38).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Reyna-Medina pled guilty pursuant to a written plea agreement to transportation of an undocumented alien in violation of 8 U.S.C. §§ 1324(a)(1)(A)(ii), 1324(a)(1)(A)(v)(II), and 1324(a)(1)(B)(ii). In exchange for her guilty plea and waiver of her right to appeal or to file a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, the Government agreed to recommend a sentence within the applicable guideline range and to recommend maximum credit for acceptance of responsibility.

         The Probation Department prepared a Presentence Investigation Report (PSR). Reyna-Medina's base offense level was 12. The PSR included increases for previous felony immigration violations, using a minor to commit the offense, and for obstruction of justice because Reyna-Medina claimed to be a United States citizen. Her final offense level was 20 before credit for acceptance of responsibility. Reyna-Medina had four previous felony immigration convictions in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2008. Her criminal history category was V. Her sentencing guideline range was 63 to 78 months, with a maximum statutory sentence of five years. Counsel objected to the imposition of obstruction of justice and attached a Declaration of Birth that reflected that Reyna-Medina was born in Brownsville, Texas.

         At sentencing, the Court sustained Reyna-Medina's objection to application of obstruction of justice. That change reduced her offense level to 15 after acceptance of responsibility. Her guideline sentencing range was reduced to 37 to 46 months' imprisonment. The Court sentenced her to 46 months' imprisonment to be followed by three years' supervised release. Judgment was entered on May 24, 2016. Reyna-Medina did not appeal.

         II. MOVANT'S CLAIMS

         Reyna-Medina challenges the Court's application of obstruction of justice and use of a minor to calculate her sentence. She also argues that her sentence was erroneously increased for a crime of violence that no longer applies after Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). Reyna-Medina finally complains that her counsel's failure to object to the PSR constituted ineffective assistance of counsel.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         There are four cognizable grounds upon which a federal prisoner may move to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence: 1) constitutional issues, 2) challenges to the district court's jurisdiction to impose the sentence, 3) challenges to the length of a sentence in excess of the statutory maximum, and 4) claims that the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255; United States v. Placente, 81 F.3d 555, 558 (5th Cir. 1996). “Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is reserved for transgressions of constitutional rights and for a narrow range of injuries that could not have been raised on direct appeal and would, if condoned, result in a complete miscarriage of justice.” United States v. Vaughn, 955 F.2d 367, 368 (5th Cir. 1992).

         B. Waiver of Right to File a § 2255 Motion

         Reyna-Medina waived her right to file a motion to vacate by the terms of her plea agreement. D.E. 14, ¶ 7. She did not address the waiver in her motion. The Government urges the Court to enforce the waiver.

         Reyna-Medina does not argue that counsel was ineffective before her guilty plea, but only after the plea and at sentencing. Her claim of ineffective assistance does not automatically relieve her of the waivers of appeal and § 2255 post-conviction proceedings. See United States v. White, 307 F.3d 336, 343-44 (5th Cir. 2002) (an ineffective assistance claim survives a waiver “only when the claimed assistance directly affected the validity of that waiver or the plea itself”). In White, the court decided there was “no need to except ineffective assistance of counsel claims from the general rule allowing defendants to waive their statutory rights so that they can reach a plea ...


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