United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Orangeburg Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Margaret B. Seymour, Senior United States District Court
Juan Medina-Martinez ("Movant") is a federal inmate
currently housed at FCI-Oakdale in Oakdale, Louisiana. On
October 20, 2014, Movant, proceeding pro se, filed a motion
under 28 U.S.C § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct
sentence. ECF No. 360. On December 1, 2014, Respondent United
States of America ("Respondent") moved for summary
judgment. ECF No. 368.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
December 23, 2010, the Houston, Texas, Drug Enforcement
Agency ("DEA") office contacted the Columbia, South
Carolina, DEA office, informing agents that a burgundy
Chevrolet Trailblazer transporting cocaine would be traveling
to a house in the Columbia area. ECF No. 223 at ¶ 17.
Columbia DEA agents, in corroboration with a task force from
the Lexington County, South Carolina, Sheriffs Office, set up
surveillance at the house to which the vehicle was traveling
in Swansea, South Carolina. Id. at ¶ 18. After
a short stay at the Swansea residence, the Trailblazer
traveled to another residence at 311 Bub Shumpert Road,
Pelion, South Carolina (the "Shumpert Road
residence"). Id. A red Chevrolet Z-71 departed
the Shumpert Road residence after Movant and several
co-defendants remained there for a short period of time.
Id. at ¶ 19. Agents conducted a DMV records
search on the Z-71, and discovered that the Z-71 was
registered to co-Defendant Manuel Soto-Gonzales
("Defendant Soto-Gonzales"). Id. Officers
executed a traffic stop of the Z-71 because the vehicle had a
headlight missing. Id. In the course of the traffic
stop, the arresting officer discovered over three kilograms
of cocaine. ECF No. 320 at 13. Movant was not in the Z-71 but
Defendant Soto-Gonzales implicated Movant in the drug
trafficking conspiracy. See Id. at 13-14.
December 24, 2010, DEA agents and Lexington County task force
officers executed a search warrant on the Shumpert Road
residence. ECF No 223-17, ¶ 21. The agents and officers
discovered firearms and indicia of drug trafficking,
including fifteen kilogram wrappers that traffickers use to
package cocaine. ECF No. 320 at 13. On that basis, agents
concluded that fifteen kilograms of cocaine had therefore
been distributed or disseminated from the residence.
Id. at 14. In interviews conducted on April 12,
2011, and January 11, 2012, Defendant Soto-Gonzales explained
that Movant left the Shumpert Road residence on December 23,
2010, to deliver cocaine to an unknown customer, which is why
he was not present at the traffic stop. ECF No. 242 at ¶
25. Defendant Soto-Gonzales stated that he had been
trafficking cocaine from Texas to South Carolina for a
lengthy time and Movant served as a runner and frequent
seller of cocaine for him. ECF No. 242 at ¶ 25.
According to Defendant Soto-Gonzales, Movant "did
everything" for him, including weighing, packaging, and
transporting cocaine. Id. at ¶ 26. Defendant
Soto-Gonzales estimated Movant made seven trips to South
Carolina and moved approximately six kilograms of cocaine on
each trip. Id. at ¶ 25.
Soto-Gonzales also stated that the Shumpert Road residence
was a stash house and drugs and drug sale proceeds were
previously stored in another house Defendant Soto-Gonzales
owned in Richland County, South Carolina. Id. at
¶ 27. Movant's name appeared on the Shumpert Road
residence lease because Defendant Soto-Gonzales asked Movant
to rent the Shumpert Road residence in Movant's name.
Id. at ¶ 26. Defendant Soto-Gonzales indicated
that Movant lived in the Shumpert Road residence.
Id. Defendant Soto-Gonzales stated that the two
seized firearms were in the home for protection from robbery
as the prior stash house was burglarized and the burglars
took approximately $46, 000. Id. at ¶ 27.
Defendant Soto-Gonzales stated Movant purchased one of the
firearms from a cocaine customer. ECF No. 320 at 15. Lastly,
Defendant Soto-Gonzales stated that he had seen Movant asleep
in the Shumpert residence holding the guns and on another
occasion observed shell casings outside of the residence.
March 16, 2011, a grand jury returned a superseding
indictment against Movant and his co-defendants. ECF No. 97.
The government charged Movant with five counts: Count One:
conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five
kilograms or more of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), 846; Count Two:
possessing with the intent to distribute five-hundred grams
or more of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), and 18 U.S.C. § 2; Count Three:
being an alien illegally and unlawfully in the United States,
and a co-participant in jointly undertaken criminal activity,
knowingly possessing firearms having been shipped and
transported in interstate commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 2, 922(g)(5)(A), 924(a)(2), 924(e); Count Four:
possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking
crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 924(c); Count
Five: using and maintaining a place for the purpose of
unlawfully storing, distributing, and using a controlled
substance, to wit: cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 856 (a)(1), 856(a)(2), and 18 U.S.C. § 2.
Id. Movant entered a plea of not guilty on September
23, 2011. ECF No. 174. On February 2, 2012, Movant pleaded
guilty to Counts One and Four pursuant to a written plea
agreement. ECF No. 282. A Spanish language interpreter was
present at the pleading. Id. at 3. Movant indicated
that he understood what was happening, and answered all
questions that the court presented to him. ECF No. 320 at
Movant did not disagree with the facts of the
case. Id. at 17.
court held a sentencing hearing on July 30, 2012. ECF No.
289. The court sentenced Movant to a term of 204 months,
consisting of 144 months as to Count One and 60 months as to
Count Four, to run consecutively. Id. The court also
imposed a supervised release period of five years as to each
Count One and Count Four, to run concurrently, with standard
and special conditions, including surrender to a
duly-authorized immigration official for deportation
consideration, and, if deported, no re-entry into the United
States without permission of the Attorney General or the
Secretary of Homeland Security. Id. The court
entered a judgment against Movant on July 31, 2012, and
Counts Two, Three, and Five were dismissed upon the
government's motion. Id.
November 19, 2012, Movant filed an untimely Notice of Appeal.
ECF No. 255. Respondent moved to dismiss as untimely and
barred by the appeal waiver in the plea agreement. The Fourth
Circuit dismissed the appeal on October 21, 2013, as
untimely. ECF No. 346. Movant timely filed his § 2255
motion on October 20, 2014. ECF No. 360.
Movant asserts the following grounds for relief:
GROUND ONE: Movant contents that he received ineffective
assistance of counsel because (1) His counsel negotiated a
plea agreement despite the lack of evidence for the charges
he faced; (2) Guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary
because counsel did not properly investigate the basis for
the conspiracy and firearm charge and counsel did not
properly advise him regarding the guilty plea and the
elements of the offenses; (3) counsel failed to argue that
under the 'corroboration requirement' movant's
two convictions cannot stand. GROUND TWO: Movant received
ineffective assistance of counsel for not challenging the
hearsay of Manual Soto-Gonzales [Movant's co-defendant]
and for allowing the government to use the codefendant's
hearsay as proof of convicting Medina.
GROUND THREE: Sixth Amendment violation due to ineffective
assistance of counsel, when defense counsel failed to object
to prosecutorial misconduct.
ECF No. 360.
December 1, 2014, the government filed a motion for summary
judgment. ECF No. 368. The court issued an order, pursuant to
Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975),
on December 1, 2014, advising Movant of the summary judgment
procedure and the possible consequences if he failed to
respond adequately. ECF No. 369. Movant failed to respond to
the motion for summary judgment.
September 1, 2016, Movant's sentence was reduced pursuant
to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and retroactive United States
Sentencing Guideline Amendment 782, effective November 1,
2014. ECF No. 392. Movant's sentence was reduced from a
term of 204 months, consisting of 144 months as to Count One
and 60 months as to Count Four, to run consecutively, to a
term of 195 ...