United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Rosenthal Chief United States District Judge.
Ramon Rodriguez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to
possess with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21
U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(c). This court sentenced him to a 168
month prison term and three years of supervised release.
See Judgment (Docket No. 649). Rodriguez has moved
to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence, (Docket No.
679), and the government has moved for summary judgment,
(Docket No. 685). Based on Rodriguez's motion, the
government's motion, all the arguments and authorities
the parties submitted, the record, and the governing law, the
government's motion is granted, and Rodriguez's
motion is denied.
The Legal Standards
28 U.S.C. § 2255 provides for relief “for errors
that occurred at trial or sentencing.” Jeffers v.
Chandler, 253 F.3d 827, 830 (5th Cir. 2001). To prevail,
Rodriguez must demonstrate that: (1) His sentence was imposed
in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United
States; (2) the court lacked jurisdiction to impose the
sentence; (3) the sentence exceeded the maximum allowed by
law; or (4) the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral
attack. See United States v. Seyfert, 67 F.3d 544,
546 (5th Cir. 1995).
a general principle, Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, relating to summary judgment, applies with equal
force in the context of habeas corpus cases.” Clark
v. Johnson, 202 F.3d 760, 764 (5th Cir.), cert.
denied, 531 U.S. 831 (2000). Summary judgment is
appropriate when “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In considering a
motion for summary judgment, the “evidence of the
nonmovant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences
are to be drawn in his favor.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Once the movant
presents evidence demonstrating entitlement to summary
judgment, the nonmovant must present specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue in dispute. Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
alleges that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary
because his counsel told him that a codefendant, Guadalupe
Herrera, had died. Rodriguez contends that had he known
Herrera was in fact still alive, he would have sought a more
favorable plea agreement by offering information against
To prevail on his claim for ineffective assistance of
must show that . . . counsel made errors so serious that
counsel was not functioning as the “counsel”
guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Second, the [petitioner]
must show that the deficient performance prejudiced the
defense. This requires showing that counsel's errors were
so serious as to deprive the defendant of a fair trial, a
trial whose result is reliable.
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984).
The first prong of the Strickland test requires a
showing that counsel's representation fell below an
objective standard of reasonableness. Id. at 687-88.
Reasonableness is measured against prevailing professional
norms in the totality of the circumstances. Id. at
688. Review of counsel's performance is deferential.
Id. at 689. In assessing prejudice,
“Strickland asks whether it is reasonably
likely the result would have been different, ” if not
for counsel's deficient performance. Harrington v.
Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 111 (2011)(internal quotation
record shows that Herrera died on July 5, 2016. (Docket Entry
No. 611). The government stated this fact in open court at
Rodriguez's rearraignment on September 13, 2016, (Docket
Entry No. 665 at 25-26), the same proceeding in which
Rodriguez entered his guilty plea, (id. at 4-30).
The undisputed record evidence establishes that Herrera died
more than two months before Rodriguez pleaded guilty, which
undermines Rodriguez's claim that his counsel was
ineffective by providing inaccurate information. Rodriguez
identifies no other instance of allegedly deficient
performance. Rodriguez cannot show ineffective assistance of
counsel in connection with his guilty plea or that his plea
was based on inaccurate information. The guilty plea was
knowing and voluntary as a matter of law, and Rodriguez is
not entitled to relief.
Conclusion and Denial of Certificate ...