The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN KEENAN, Senior District Judge
Before the Court is Hector Reyes' pro se motion to correct
his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For the reasons stated
herein, the motion is denied.
THE INDICTMENT AND PLEA AGREEMENT
On December 4, 2001, Reyes and seventeen other defendants were
indicted on two counts. Count One, the only count naming Reyes,
charged him and twelve other individuals with conspiracy to
distribute five kilograms and more of cocaine, in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 846.
Represented by his privately-retained attorney, Reyes entered
into a Plea Agreement with the Government dated March 25, 2002.
The agreement stipulated that (i) Reyes' base offense level would
be 36 pursuant to United States Sentencing Guidelines
("Guidelines" or "USSG") § 2D1.1(c) (2) because his conduct
involved at least 50 kilograms but less than 150 kilograms of
cocaine; (ii) Reyes' plea of guilty would merit a two-level
decrease in offense level for acceptance of responsibility
pursuant to USSG § 3E1.1(a); (iii) Reyes would receive a
one-level reduction pursuant to USSG § 3E1.1(b)2 for his timely acceptance of the plea agreement; and (iv) the resulting offense
level would be 33. The parties further stipulated that Reyes'
Criminal History Category was I, and that the total Guidelines
range was 135 to 168 months. The agreement also provided:
The parties agree that the defendant does not intend
to seek relief from the statutory minimum sentence
provision pursuant to Title 18, United States Code,
Section 3553(f), nor does he seek a reduction in
sentence pursuant to U.S.S.G §§ 2D1.1(b)6 and 5C1.2.
. . . .
The parties agree that neither a downward nor an
upward departure from the Stipulated Guidelines Range
of 135 to 168 months is warranted.
. . . .
It is further agreed . . . that the defendant will
neither appeal, nor otherwise litigate under Title
28, United States Code, Section 2255, any sentence
within or below the Stipulated Guidelines Range of
135 to 168 months. . . .
Plea Agreement at 2-4.*fn1
On March 25, 2002, Reyes pleaded guilty before Magistrate Judge
Douglas F. Eaton. Magistrate Judge Eaton noted that Reyes was
receiving simultaneous translation of the proceeding from a
Spanish interpreter. Plea Transcript at 2. Reyes confirmed that
he had never been treated for mental illness and that, while he
had at one time been a drug addict, he was not then under the
influence of any drug. Id. at 4-5. Reyes also confirmed that he had reviewed the charge against him with his
attorney, and that he was satisfied with his attorney's
representation of him. Id. at 5.
Magistrate Judge Eaton then addressed the Plea Agreement, which
Reyes stated he had reviewed with the assistance of his attorney
and an interpreter. Id. at 6. Reyes confirmed that no promises
other than those contained in the Plea Agreement were made to him
to induce his guilty plea. Id. Reyes also expressed his
understanding that the sentencing judge might impose a sentence
deviating from the range stipulated in the Plea Agreement and
that, nevertheless, Reyes would be bound by his guilty plea.
Id. at 6-7.
Magistrate Judge Eaton then explained the possible sentence
faced by Reyes, noting that Congress has imposed a maximum
sentence of life for the charged offense. Id. at 7-8. He
further explained that the sentencing judge would consider the
Guidelines to determine Reyes' sentencing range, and would then
decide whether any departure from that range is appropriate.
Id. at 8-9. Reyes confirmed that he was pleading guilty of his
own free will and because he was guilty of the charged conduct.
Id. at 10. After explaining at length the potential
consequences of Reyes' guilty plea, including a statutory minimum
of 10 years' incarceration and mandatory supervised release,
Magistrate Judge Eaton turned to the specific terms of the Plea
Agreement. Id. at Magistrate Judge Eaton noted that, under the terms of the Plea
Agreement, Reyes agreed to seek no departure from the stipulated
range of 135 to 168 months nor from the statutory 10 year
minimum. Id. at 14. Magistrate Judge Eaton also apprised Reyes
that his rights of appeal were limited by the Plea Agreement.
Specifically, he explained that "[i]f [the sentencing judge]
imposes a sentence of no more than 168 months, you have agreed in
advance that you will not take an appeal." Id. at 15.
Magistrate Judge Eaton then explained all of the rights that
Reyes would have had at trial if he entered a plea of not guilty.
Id. at 16-19. Reyes confirmed his understanding that, by
pleading guilty, he was relinquishing those rights and that the
sentencing judge may impose a sentence as though he had been
found guilty. Id. at 19. The Government then stated the
elements it would have had to prove at trial and summarized the
evidence supporting the charge. Id. at 20-21. Reyes then
admitted the charged conduct, his participation in a conspiracy
to distribute approximately 65 kilograms of cocaine. Id. at 21.
Magistrate Judge Eaton then read Count One of the indictment,
to which Reyes pleaded guilty. Id. at 23-24. Magistrate Judge
Eaton determined that Reyes was competent to enter a plea. He
also found that the plea was voluntary and supported by a factual
basis. Id. at 24. Magistrate Judge Eaton recommended that the Court accept Reyes' plea. Id. at 25. On
May 2, 2002, the late Judge Allen G. Schwartz accepted the
Reyes appeared before the Court on June 18, 2003 for
sentencing. Although counsel continued at all times to represent
Reyes, Reyes submitted to the Court two pro se letters which
counsel had neither received nor read. Sentencing Transcript at
2-3. The letters requested a downward departure for extraordinary
rehabilitation, extraordinary family circumstances and minimum
participation, and for relief under the "safety valve" clause,
18 U.S.C. § 3553(f). Id. Counsel stated that "we withdrew any
motions for the safety valve and/or for the minimal
participation" as part of the plea negotiations. Id. at 3.
Counsel explained that ...