Munguia v. United States, Case No. 1:04-cr-122

Decision Date20 September 2013
Docket NumberCase No. 1:04-cr-122,Case No. 1:09-cv-170
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Tennessee

Judge Edgar


Federal prisoner Christian Omar Munguia ("Munguia") moves for post-conviction relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 claiming that he was deprived of his right to effective assistance of counsel in violation of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. He moves for leave to supplement the record with Lafler v. Cooper, 132 S.Ct. 1376, 182 L.Ed.2d 398 (2012). Munguia contends that Lafler should be taken into consideration with regard to claims 1 and 3. The motion for leave to supplement [Court Doc. No. 272] is granted.

Munguia moves for leave to take discovery pursuant to Rule 6 of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings for the United States District Courts. The motion [Court Doc. No. 272] is denied. Munguia fails to meet his burden of showing good cause why he should be allowed to take discovery.

After reviewing the record, the Court concludes that the entire § 2255 motion as amended [Court Doc. Nos. 249, 253] must be denied and dismissed with prejudice. The record conclusively shows that the motion is without merit and Munguia is not entitled to any relief under § 2255. Thereis no need for an evidentiary hearing.

I. Standard of Review Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a) provides that a federal prisoner may make a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct a judgment of conviction or sentence on the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the federal district court lacked jurisdiction to impose the sentence, or that the sentence is in excess of the maximum authorized by federal law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.

As a threshold standard to relief a § 2255 motion must allege: (1) an error of federal constitutional magnitude; (2) a sentence was imposed in excess of the maximum authorized by federal law; or (3) an error of fact or law that was so fundamental as to render the entire criminal proceeding invalid. Short v. United States, 471 F.3d 686, 691 (6th Cir. 2006); Pough v. United States, 442 F.3d 959, 964 (6th Cir. 2006); Mallett v. United States, 334 F.3d 491, 496-97 (6th Cir. 2003); Moss v. United States, 323 F.3d 445, 454 (6th Cir. 2003); Weinberger v. United States, 268 F.3d 346, 351 (6th Cir. 2001). Munguia bears the burden of establishing an error of constitutional magnitude which had a substantial and injurious effect or influence on the criminal proceedings. Reed v. Farley, 512 U.S. 339, 353 (1994); Brecht v. Abrahamson, 507 U.S. 619, 637-38 (1993); Humphress v. United States, 398 F.3d 855, 858 (6th Cir. 2005); Griffin v. United States, 330 F.3d 733, 736 (6th Cir. 2003); Watson v. United States, 165 F.3d 486, 488 (6th Cir. 1999).

A § 2255 motion is not a substitute for a direct appeal. Where nonconstitutional issues are at stake, there is no basis for allowing a collateral attack under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to do service for a direct appeal. Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 621 (1998); United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 167-68 (1982); United States v. Timmreck, 441 U.S. 780, 784 (1979); Regalado v. UnitedStates, 334 F.3d 520, 528 (6th Cir. 2003); Grant v. United States, 72 F.3d 503, 506 (6th Cir. 1996). To obtain relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 for a nonconstitutional error, e.g. an error in calculating the applicable advisory sentencing guideline range under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, Munguia must establish either: (1) a fundamental defect in the criminal proceedings which inherently resulted in a complete miscarriage of justice; or (2) an error so egregious that it amounts to a violation of due process. Reed, 512 U.S. at 353-54; Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 428 (1962); Jones v. United States, 178 F.3d 790, 796 (6th Cir. 1999); Watson, 165 F.3d at 488; Fair v. United States, 157 F.3d 427, 430 (6th Cir. 1998); Grant, 72 F.3d at 505-06.

Munguia has the burden of articulating sufficient facts to state a viable claim for relief. Vague, conclusory claims which are not substantiated by allegations of specific facts with some probability of verity are not enough to warrant an evidentiary hearing. A § 2255 motion may be dismissed if it merely makes conclusory statements without substantiating allegations of specific facts and thereby fails to state a claim under § 2255. Green v. Wingo, 454 F.2d 52, 53 (6th Cir. 1972); O'Malley v. United States, 285 F.2d 733, 735 (6th Cir. 1961); Brain v. United States, 2011 WL 1343344, * 2 (E.D. Tenn. April 8, 2011); Jones v. United States, 2010 WL 1882122, * 2 (E.D. Tenn. May 11, 2010).

An evidentiary hearing is unnecessary if there are no genuine issues of material fact in dispute and the record conclusively shows that Munguia is not entitled to relief under § 2255. An evidentiary hearing is not required where Munguia's allegations and claims cannot be accepted as true because they are contradicted by the record, inherently incredible, or mere conclusions rather than statements of fact. Amr v. United States, 280 Fed. Appx. 480, 485 (6th Cir. 2008); Valentine v. United States, 488 F.3d 325, (6th Cir. 2007); Arredondo v. United States, 178 F.3d 778, 782 (6thCir. 1999); Brain, 2011 WL 1343344, at * 2; Jones, 2010 WL 1882122, at * 1.

II. Facts and Procedural History

The underlying facts are set forth in United States v. Munguia, 273 Fed. Appx. 517 (6th Cir. 2008). On September 15, 2004, a federal grand jury returned a six-count superseding indictment against Munguia and three co-defendants. Munguia was only charged in Count One. Count One of the superseding indictment charged that Munguia, Charlie Stevenson ("Stevenson"), Vernon Whaley ("Whaley"), and Fredrico Lopez-Galardo ("Lopez-Galardo"), and other persons known and unknown to the grand jury, conspired to violate 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), that is, to knowingly, intentionally, and without authority distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance, all in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846.

Co-defendants Stevenson, Whaley, and Lopez-Galardo pleaded guilty to the conspiracy pursuant to plea agreements. Munguia was represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney, Clayton Whittaker ("Whittaker"). Munguia chose to plead not guilty and take his case to a jury trial. Co-defendants Stevenson and Lopez-Galardo, along with unindicted co-conspirator Denise Arellano, testified at trial for the prosecution against Munguia. In its response opposing Munguia's 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion [Court Doc. No. 258], respondent United States provides a good summary of the facts and evidence presented at trial which need not be repeated here. Suffice to say that the government presented an overwhelming amount of incriminating evidence against Munguia.

On November 2, 2005, the jury returned a verdict finding Munguia guilty. In its verdict form, the jury made a specific finding that the government had proved beyond a reasonable that Munguia conspired to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine. [Court Doc. No. 206]. Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) the minimumsentence was ten years imprisonment and the maximum was life imprisonment.

The probation office prepared a presentence investigation report (PSR) using the 2004 version of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. The PSR correctly determined that Munguia was responsible for a total of 3.17 kilograms of methamphetamine. In calculating the applicable advisory guideline range, the probation officer established that Munguia's base offense level was 34 pursuant to U.S.S.G. §§ 2D1.1(a)(3) and 2D1.1(c)(3). There was a base offense level of 34 because the amount of methamphetamine was at least 1.5 kilograms but less than 5 kilograms.

There was a two-level enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1(c) because the evidence established that Munguia was an organizer, leader, manager, and/or supervisor of one or more other participants the methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy. Munguia recruited and directed the criminal activities of co-defendant Lopez-Galardo and co-conspirator Girardo Ramirez-Carmona. This yielded an adjusted offense level of 36. Munguia had six criminal history points and a criminal history category III. His advisory guideline range was 235-293 months imprisonment.

Counsel for Munguia filed objections to the PSR. [Court Doc. No. 227]. Whittaker argued that certain statements in the PSR were based upon inaccurate drug amounts and Munguia should only be held accountable for between 500 grams and 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine, which would have resulted in a lower base offense level of 32. Whittaker raised an objection that the PSR's estimate of 3.17 kilograms of methamphetamine was incorrect and not supported by the evidence presented at trial. Whittaker also objected to the two-level enhancement to Munguia's offense level pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1(c). It was argued that Munguia did not manage, direct, or supervise the activities of other participants in the methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy.

During the sentencing hearing on February 6, 2006, this District Court denied Munguia'sobjections to the PSR. The Court determined that the PSR was correct. After taking into consideration the relevant factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3553, this Court sentenced Munguia to be imprisoned for a term of 240 months to be followed by five years of supervised release. The judgment of conviction was entered on February 16, 2006. [Court Doc. No. 234].

Munguia took a direct appeal from the judgment of conviction and sentence to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. He argued that the District Court erred by: (1) denying his motion in limine to exclude certain evidence relating to cell telephone numbers; (2) admitting evidence of...

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