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United States v. Sanchez-Chavez

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

October 29, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
CRISTOBAL SANCHEZ-CHAVEZ, Defendant/Movant. v.

          ORDER DENYING § 2255 MOTION AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          SUSAN P. WATTERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This case is before the Court on motion by Defendant/Movant Cristobal Sanchez-Chavez ("Sanchez") to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

         Sanchez filed his motion pro se, alleging in part that a Title III wiretap application was defective and that it was unreasonable for counsel to fail to challenge it. Because he, as a prisoner, would likely be unable to review the application, the Court appointed new counsel to represent him. Counsel was ordered to file an amended motion and was permitted to file an Anders brief if appropriate. See Orders (Docs. 152, 154, 164); see also Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 728 (1967); Graves v. McEwen, 731 F.3d 879, 879-80 (9th Cir. 2013).

         On July 31, 2018, counsel filed an amended § 2255 motion and an Anders brief (Doc. 168). Sanchez had an opportunity to respond, see Order (Doc. 164) at 3 ¶ 3, but did not do so.

         I. Preliminary Review

         The Court has reviewed the amended motion in light of the record of the case. See Rule 4(b), Rules Governing § 2255 Proceedings. A petitioner "who is able to state facts showing a real possibility of constitutional error should survive Rule 4 review." Calderon v. United States Dist. Court, 98 F.3d 1102, 1109 (9th Cir. 1996) (“Nicolas") (Schroeder, C.J., concurring) (referring to Rules Governing § 2254 Cases). But the Court should "eliminate the burden that would be placed on the respondent by ordering an unnecessary answer." Advisory Committee Note (1976), Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2254 Cases, cited in Advisory Committee Note (1976), Rule 4, Rules Governing § 2255 Proceedings; see also United States v. Rodriguez-Vega, 797 F.3d 781, 791-92 (9th Cir. 2015).

         Taking into account habeas counsel's investigation and his statement that he was not able to support Sanchez's allegations, the § 2255 motion will be denied.

         II. Background

         On October 3, 2013, a grand jury indicted Sanchez and co-defendant Hector Magallon-Lopez ("Magallon") on one count of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine and 500 grams or more of a substance containing methamphetamine, a violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1) (Count 1). Magallon was also charged with one count of possessing the same, a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). See Indictment (Doc. 1).

         Both defendants stood trial before a jury. Both were convicted. See Verdicts (Docs. 93, 94).

         On November 20, 2014, Sanchez was sentenced to serve 151 months in prison, to be followed by a five-year term of supervised release. See Minutes (Doc. 104); Judgment (Doc. 106) at 2-3.

         Sanchez appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence and the denial of a minor-role reduction at sentencing. On December 23, 2015, the Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence. See Order (Doc. 151) at 3, United States v. Sanchez-Chavez, No. 14-30251 (9th Cir. Dec. 23, 2015).

         Sanchez's conviction became final on March 22, 2016. See Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S. 134, 150 (2012). He timely filed his § 2255 motion on December 5, 2016. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1).

         III. ...


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