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Torres v. United States

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

May 10, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. CV. No. 16-00610 DKW-KJM


          Derrick K. Watson United States District Judge.


         On November 13, 2013, Petitioner Daniel Raymond Torres pled guilty to, and was sentenced to 151 months imprisonment for, one count of distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A). Relying on 28 U.S.C. § 2255, Torres now seeks to vacate and reduce his sentence based upon the application of California Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, Cal. Penal Code § 1170.18, which, in 2016, enabled him to reclassify three California felony theft convictions from the 1990s to misdemeanors. Because Torres already completed his sentences for the three reclassified state convictions, however, he is not eligible for a reduction of his federal sentence under Proposition 47. Nor would his current request to recalculate his criminal history score under the sentencing guidelines provide him the relief he presently seeks. Accordingly, after careful consideration of Torres' Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence (“Section 2255 Motion”), the record, and the relevant legal authority, the Section 2255 Motion is DENIED.


         I. Indictment And Guilty Plea

         Torres was charged in a two-count Indictment on August 2, 2012 with (1) conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine on January 19, 2012, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), and 846 (Count I); and (2) distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine on January 17, 2012, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A) (Count II). Dkt. No. 4 (8/2/12 Indictment). There was also an associated criminal forfeiture allegation. He was arrested on August 19, 2012 and detained pending trial. Dkt. No. 16 (Arrest Warrant); Dkt. No. 19 (9/7/12 Detention Order).

         On May 21, 2013, Torres pled guilty to Count II of the Indictment, pursuant to a plea agreement, before United States District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi. Dkt. No. 42 (5/21/13 Court Minutes); Dkt. No. 43 (5/21/13 Memorandum of Plea Agreement). At the change of plea hearing, the court accepted Torres' plea of guilty and deferred acceptance of the plea agreement until after preparation of a Presentence Report (“PSR”), and the Government agreed to dismiss Count I at the time of sentencing. Id. On August 19, 2013, the case was reassigned to this Court. Dkt. No. 44 (8/19/13 Order of Reassignment).

         II. Sentence And Post-Sentencing Relief

         A. 2013 Sentencing

         On November 13, 2013, this Court sentenced Torres to a term of imprisonment of 151 months together with five years of supervised release. Dkt. No. 58 (11/13/13 Court Minutes). At the sentencing hearing, the Court accepted the plea agreement and granted the Government's oral motion to dismiss Count I. Dkt. No. 38 (11/13/13 Court Minutes); Dkt. No. 59 (11/18/13 Judgment). After granting the Government's request for a one-level timely plea adjustment under U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(b), and considering Torres' allocution, along with counsels' arguments, the Court sentenced Torres at the bottom of the guidelines range of 151 to 188 months (offense level 29, criminal history category VI). Dkt. No. 38 (11/13/13 Court Minutes); Dkt. No. 59 (11/18/13 Judgment); see also PSR at 6, 13, 25, Dkt. No. 60.

         B. 2015 Motion For Reduction Of Sentence

         On October 14, 2015, the Court reduced Torres' term of imprisonment from 151 to 130 months, granting his motion for reduction of sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) for retroactive application of Amendment 782. Dkt. No. 61. That order took effect on November 1, 2015. Id.

         III. Section 2255 Motion

         Torres timely filed his Section 2255 Motion on November 7, 2016. Dkt. No. 63. The sole ground for relief asserted is that “the passing of California's Proposition 47 by law re-classified three of [Torres'] California Convictions from Felonies to Misdemeanors.”[1] Section 2255 Motion at 4. In support, Torres attached three minute orders from the Superior Court of California, County of Orange, each granting his petition pursuant to Proposition 47 to reclassify a felony violation to a misdemeanor. See Section 2255 Motion, Ex. 1 (4/25/16 Minute Order); Ex. 2 (4/21/16 Minute Order); Ex. 3 (8/2/16 Minute Order). The United States verified and confirmed that Torres' California state felony convictions in 1996 (Case No. 96HF0175), 1997 (Case No. 96HF1152), and 1999 (Case No. 99HF0102) were reclassified as misdemeanors. See Mem. In Opp'n at 5-6 n.2, Dkt. No. 69.

         Torres asks the Court to “re-open” his federal sentence because “the State sentence was used to increase the Federal Sentence [and the state sentence] was successfully removed after the Federal Sentence was imposed.” Section 2255 Motion at 4. He requests that the Court “re-sentence [him] with a proper calculation under the Sentencing Guideline[s] minus the Three previous[ly] used Felony Convictions.” Section 2255 Motion at 12. In his Reply brief, Torres reiterates that he “has had [three] of his prior state sentences removed, ” and therefore “there is no argument that Petitioner does not have [three] prior felony convictions that were used to increase [his] federal sentence[.]” Reply at 2, Dkt. ...

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