United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
D. RAINEY, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Benjamin Espinal-Rodriguez filed a motion to vacate, set
aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255
(D.E. 25), to which the United States of America (the
“Government”) responded (D.E.
August 16, 2018, United States Border Patrol agents
encountered Movant walking through the brush along Highway 77
near Sarita, Texas. Agents determined that Movant was a
citizen of Honduras who was illegally present in the United
States. He had previously been deported on May 21, 2010,
after being convicted of first degree aggravated assault and
first degree conspiracy to commit aggravated assault in
September 12, 2018, Movant was indicted for illegal reentry
in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326. He pled guilty and was
sentenced on January 23, 2019, to 20 months'
imprisonment. Judgment was entered the following day. Movant
did not appeal. His conviction therefore became final on
February 7, 2019, the last day on which he could have filed a
notice of appeal. See Fed. R. App. P. 4(b)(1)(A)(i);
United States v. Plascencia, 537 F.3d 385, 388 (5th
Cir. 2008). He filed the present motion under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 on April 15, 2019. It is timely.
claims that defense counsel was constitutionally ineffective
because she allowed him to plead guilty to illegal reentry
without moving to dismiss the Indictment on the basis that
the charge was barred by the five-year statute of limitations
under 18 U.S.C. § 3282(a).
28 U.S.C. § 2255
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).
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
ineffective assistance of counsel allegation presented in a
§ 2255 motion is properly analyzed under the two-prong
test set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S.
668, 689 (1984). United States v. Willis, 273 F.3d
592, 598 (5th Cir. 2001). To prevail on a claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel, a movant must demonstrate
that his or her counsel's performance was both deficient
and prejudicial. Id. This means that a movant must
show that counsel's performance was outside the broad
range of what is considered reasonable assistance and that
this deficient performance led to an unfair and unreliable
conviction and sentence. United States v. Dovalina,
262 F.3d 472, 474-75 (5th Cir. 2001).
reviewing ineffectiveness claims, “judicial scrutiny of
counsel's performance must be highly deferential, ”
and every effort must be made to eliminate “the
distorting effects of hindsight.” Strickland,
466 U.S. at 689. An ineffective assistance claim focuses on
“counsel's challenged conduct on the facts of the
particular case, viewed as of the time of counsel's
conduct[, ]” because “[i]t is all too tempting
for a defendant to second-guess counsel's assistance
after conviction or adverse sentence.” Id. at
689-90. With regard to the prejudice requirement, a movant
must show that “there is a reasonable probability that,
but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of
the proceeding would have been different.” Id.
at 694. “Failure to prove either deficient performance
or actual prejudice is fatal to an ineffective assistance
claim.” Carter v. Johnson, 131 F.3d 452, 463
(5th Cir. 1997). “A court need not address both
components of the inquiry if the defendant makes an
insufficient showing on one.” Armstead v.
Scott, 37 F.3d 202, 210 (5th Cir. 1994).