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United States v. Martinez

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

September 20, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ABRAHAM MARTINEZ, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CLAIRE V. EAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On May 24, 2018, defendant Abraham Martinez, a federal prisoner appearing pro se, filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Dkt. # 65). Section 2255 provides that “a prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or law of the United States . . . may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.”

         I.

         On November 2, 2015, a grand jury returned a one-count indictment charging defendant with possession of a destructive device, without registering the device in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(d), 5871. Dkt. # 4. Defendant was arrested and made his initial appearance on November 4, 2015. Dkt. # 11. Defendant was found to be indigent, and the Court appointed Julie Lynn O’Connell, Federal Public Defender, to represent him. Dkt. # 12.

         On December 3, 2015, defense counsel filed an unopposed motion for determination of competency due to serious concerns about defendant’s mental health.[1] Dkt. # 20. Plaintiff did not object to defense counsel’s motion. Id. The magistrate judge found that the matter should be set for hearing, and in the meantime, referred defendant for psychiatric and/or psychological treatment and an examination. Dkt. ## 22, 23. Defendant was sent to FCI-Englewood for an examination by Jessica Micono, Psy. D., and she submitted a sealed medical evaluation report, Dkt. # 26, opining that there is “a mental disorder that substantially impairs his present ability to understand the nature and consequences of the court proceedings against him, and his ability to properly assist counsel in his defense.” Id. at 1. On February 17, 2016, based on the sealed medical evaluation report and without objection, the magistrate judge found that defendant was incompetent to stand trial and was (then) presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent. Dkt. # 30. The magistrate judge committed defendant to the custody of the Attorney General for care and treatment for the purpose of restoration to competency. Id. On August 12, 2016, a second sealed medical evaluation report was filed, opining that defendant still remained incompetent to proceed in his criminal case. Dkt. # 36. It was recommended that an additional reasonable period of time would be sufficient to restore defendant to competency. Id. at 2. The magistrate judge granted a 120-day continuance for additional restoration of competence, and reset the competency hearing. Dkt. # 38. On February 23, 2017, a third sealed medical evaluation report was filed, Dkt. # 46, which opined that defendant was mentally competent to stand trial, and had the mental capacity to understand the legal proceedings against him. Id. On March 1, 2017, a competency hearing was held. Dkt. # 47. Based on the third sealed medical evaluation report and without objection, the magistrate judge found defendant competent to stand trial. Dkt. ## 47, 51.

         On May 1, 2017, defendant pleaded guilty pursuant to a Rule (c)(1)(C) plea agreement with plaintiff, which included an agreed sentence of seventy-two months imprisonment. Dkt. # 56. The plea agreement contained an appellate and post-conviction waiver, wherein defendant agreed, inter alia, to knowingly and voluntarily waive the right to “collaterally attack the conviction and sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, except for claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.” Id., at 3. He “expressly acknowledge[d] that counsel ha[d] explained his appellate and post-conviction rights; that the defendant underst[ood] his rights; and that the defendant knowingly and voluntarily waive[d] those rights as set forth above.” Id. at 4. Additionally, defendant admitted in the plea agreement to committing the offense charged in the indictment. Id. at 7. Defendant stated:

I, ABRAHAM MARTINEZ, admit that on August 11, 2015, in the Northern District of Oklahoma, I knowingly possessed a destructive device that was not registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. On that day, I possessed a “Molotov cocktail, ” made of a bottle that contain[ed] gasoline and a rag, which I knew would burn when lit. My attorney informed me that a “Molotov cocktail” is a destructive device under the law. I did not register it with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

Id. at 7. In the plea agreement, defendant signed and acknowledged that

[I have] read this agreement and carefully reviewed every part of it with my attorney. I understand it, and I voluntarily agree to it. Further, I have consulted with my attorney and fully understand my rights with respect to sentencing which may apply to my case. No. other promises or inducements have been made to me, other than those contained in this pleading. In addition, no one has threatened or forced me in any way to enter into this agreement. Finally, I am satisfied with the representation of my attorney in this matter.

Id. at 15. Defendant also signed a petition to enter a plea of guilty, which states that, “I believe that my attorney has done all that anyone could do to counsel and assist me, AND I AM SATISFIED WITH THE ADVICE AND HELP [S]HE HAS GIVEN ME.” Dkt. # 58, at 4 (emphasis in original). In addition, defendant admitted the elements of the offense to which he was pleading guilty and the facts related thereto. Id. at 2.

         At the change of plea hearing, the Court asked defendant if he had been treated recently for mental illness, and defendant acknowledged that he had been. Dkt. # 71, at 8. However, defendant acknowledged that counseling without psychotropic medications helped change his behavior. Id. at 8-9. Defendant admitted that there was nothing in his mental state that would hinder his ability to understand the nature of the proceedings against him. Id. at 10. The Court then found that defendant understood the nature of the proceedings and had been able to assist in his own defense. Id. at 10-11. In addition, counsel for defendant acknowledged that defendant had assisted her in his defense since returning from the Bureau of Prisons. Id. Defendant stated that he was fully satisfied with the counsel, representation, and advice given to him by defense counsel, and that his willingness to plead guilty was the result of his discussions with defense counsel and the United States. Id. at 12-13. Defendant acknowledged that “no one forced [him] or threatened [him to plead guilty], ” and that he was “pleading guilty of [his] own free will because [he is] guilty.” Id. at 15. Defendant acknowledged that he was waiving his right to collaterally attack his conviction and sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, except for claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Id. at 22. Defendant was advised of the charge against him, and he admitted that he understood the charge to which he was pleading guilty. Id. at 27. In his own words, defendant told the Court what it is that he did to commit the offense. Id. at 28. The Court twice informed defendant of the charge against him, and defendant acknowledged that he had committed the offense. Id. at 27, 34-35. One exchange went as follows:

THE COURT: Mr. Martinez, have you had a chance to talk to your counsel?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, ma’am.
THE COURT: Did you or did you not throw that device from your truck?
THE DEFENDANT: As I spoke it earlier when I read out that thing, on August 11th, 2015, that I threw it out, that I knowingly possessed.
THE COURT: The incendiary device?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, ma’am.
THE COURT: And you understand that that is both a destructive device and a firearm under the statute?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, ma’am.
THE COURT: And it wasn’t registered to you; ...

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