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Guerra v. Richardson

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Amarillo Division

May 16, 2019

MANUEL GUERRA, Petitioner,
v.
JOEL RICHARDSON, Sheriff, Randall County, Texas, Respondent.

          FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY PETITION FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

          LEE ANN RENO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 filed by petitioner MANUEL GUERRA [ECF 3]. For the following reasons, petitioner's habeas application should be DENIED.

         I.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         On November 29, 2017, execution of a search warrant at a business address in Potter County, Texas resulted in the discovery of approximately 2 pounds of methamphetamine in a gun case with an AR-15 assault rifle. On November 30, 2017, petitioner was charged by Complaint with the federal criminal offense of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. United States v. Guerra, No. 2:17-MJ-121. On December 1, 2017, counsel was appointed to represent petitioner in his criminal proceeding. [ECF 12].

         On December 21, 2017, petitioner was charged by grand jury Indictment with the federal criminal offenses of (1) conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, (2) possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A)(viii), and (3) possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), 924(c)(1)(A)(i). United States v. Guerra, No. 2:17-CR-137(01). Appointed counsel represented petitioner at several court appearances and filed pretrial discovery motions on petitioner's behalf. On July 30, 2018, the Court substituted retained counsel for appointed counsel. [ECF 79]. On September 12, 2018, petitioner was charged with the same federal criminal offenses by a Superseding Indictment that included an expanded forfeiture notice. The Court subsequently denied motions to suppress, for appointment of experts, and to exclude a Government witness filed by retained counsel. [ECF 116]. Jury trial in this case was set for October 9, 2018. [ECF 82].

         On October 5, 2018, this Court received an unsigned 28 U.S.C. § 2241 habeas petition form captioned in the style of this case. [ECF 3]. Included with the petition was a 40-page memorandum and a cover letter, both signed by petitioner and dated October 3, 2018. [ECF 4]. At the time he filed the 2241 application, petitioner was confined in the Randall County Jail as a federal pre-trial detainee under indictment for the above-stated federal conspiracy and drug and firearm possession offenses. Although still represented by retained counsel in his criminal case, petitioner filed the instant 2241 petition initiating this civil proceeding pro se.

         On October 9, 2018, petitioner, represented by his retained counsel, was tried before a jury in his criminal case and found guilty on all three (3) indicted counts. On December 20, 2018, petitioner was sentenced to two (2) 240-month concurrent terms of imprisonment for the conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute offenses, and a 60-month term of imprisonment for the possession of a firearm offense, said sentence to run consecutively to the 240-month sentences.

         Petitioner's retained counsel filed a timely notice of appeal, and new appointed counsel is currently representing petitioner on appeal of his conviction and sentence. See United States v. Guerra, No. 18-11407.

         II.

         PETITIONER'S ALLEGATIONS

         Petitioner appears to contend he is being held in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States for the following reasons:

1. This Court lacks jurisdiction over his criminal proceeding[1] because the federal crimes with which he was charged did not occur on federal property (territory or land purchased by or ceded to the United States by consent of the Texas Legislature); and
2. Petitioner was denied effective assistance of counsel because counsel failed to argue this Court lacked ...

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