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Macias v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 8, 2019

Daniel Alejandro Macias, Petitioner,
Charles L Ryan, Respondent.



         On December 4, 2019, Magistrate Judge Leslie A. Bowman issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) in which she recommended that this Court deny Petitioner Daniel Alejandro Macias' Petition Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 for a Writ of Habeas Corpus by a Person in State Custody (Doc. 1). (Doc. 23) Petitioner filed an objection (Doc. 24.) and Respondent filed a response (Doc. 26). Upon review, the Court will deny the § 2254 petition.

         I. Standard of Review

         The standard the District Court uses when reviewing a magistrate judge's R&R is dependent upon whether or not a party objects: where there is no objection to a magistrate's factual or legal determinations, the district court need not review the decision “under a de novo or any other standard.” Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985). However, when a party objects, the district court must “determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Moreover, “while the statute does not require the judge to review an issue de novo if no objections are filed, it does not preclude further review by the district judge, sua sponte or at the request of a party, under a de novo or any other standard.” Thomas, 474 U.S. at 154.

         There being no objection to the factual summary of the case, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's recitation of the facts, and only summarizes the facts as necessary to address Petitioner's objections. Furthermore, Petitioner has not challenged the Magistrate Judge's determination that his Claims 1(b)-(d) are procedurally defaulted. These claims include Petitioner's assertion that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to handle a motion to dismiss (Claim 1(b)) and a motion to suppress (Claim 1(c)), as well as for cumulative error (Claim 1(d)). The Court finds the Magistrate Judge's conclusions well- reasoned and agrees that they have been procedurally defaulted.

         In addition, Petitioner has not objected to the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that Claim 2-for due process violations based on the Post-Conviction Relief (“PCR”) court's failure to grant him an evidentiary hearing-is not a cognizable form of relief in federal habeas. See e.g. Ortiz v. Stewart, 149 F.3d 923, 939 (9th Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1123 (1999) (error in PCR determinations not cognizable in federal habeas); Leon v. Ryan, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9587, 2014 289980, at *9-10 (D. Ariz. Jan. 27, 2014) (error in denying evidentiary hearing in post-conviction proceedings not cognizable upon habeas review). The Court agrees and adopts this conclusion.

         Therefore, the only issue in the Magistrate Judge's opinion to which Petitioner objects is her conclusion that Petitioner had not demonstrated that counsel rendered ineffective assistance when he erroneously informed Petitioner that he could only serve 10.5 years in prison if convicted at trial.

         II. § 2254 Standard of Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, the district court may grant relief for a claim that has been adjudicated on the merits in state court if the state court's decision “is contrary to or an unreasonable application of federal law”, or an “unreasonable determination of facts in light of the evidence presented.” 28 U.S.C. §§ 2254(d)(1)-(2). Factual issues determined by the state court must be rebutted with clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(e)(1). The District Court's analysis is based on the last reasoned decision of the trial court. See Brown v. Palmateer, 379 F.3d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 2004).

         III. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

         To raise a colorable claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a petitioner must demonstrate both that counsel's performance was deficient, and that petitioner was prejudiced because of counsel's deficient actions. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 686-90, (1984); Correll v. Stewart, 137 F.3d 1404, 1411 (9th Cir. 1998). There is “a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance[.]” Carrera v. Ayers, 670 F.3d 938, 943 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Strickland, 466 U.S. at 689). Moreover, ineffective assistance of counsel claims in a habeas petition are “doubly” deferential. Harrington v. Richter, 562 U.S. 86, 105 (2011). “When §2254(d) applies, the question is not whether counsel's actions were reasonable. The question is whether there is any reasonable argument that counsel satisfied Strickland's deferential standard.” Id. Under this deference, prejudice requires a petitioner demonstrate that there is “a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” Id. at 104. “Failure to satisfy either prong of the Strickland test obviates the need to consider the other.” Rios v. Rocha, 299 F.3d 796, 805 (9th Cir. 2002).

         IV. Summary of Case

         During the pendency of this case, Petitioner was offered a plea agreement exposing him to between 15 years and 38.5 years' incarceration. (Doc. 18 at 57.) During a Donald hearing, Petitioner indicated he was aware that his sentence would be much higher than the 10.5 years' incarceration he now claims he thought he would be subject to if he went to trial. Id. The trial court informed him of the following:

COURT: Mr. Macias, you understand you have been offered a plea agreement. And as I understand it today is the last day that you can take that plea ...

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