United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court on pro se Petitioner Abel
Covarrubias' (“Covarrubias”) Motion Under 28
U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence
(Filing No. 1). For the reasons explained in this
Entry, Covarrubias's motion for relief must be
denied and the action dismissed with
prejudice. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of
appealability should not issue.
motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is the presumptive
means by which a federal prisoner can challenge his
conviction or sentence. See Davis v. United States,
417 U.S. 333, 343 (1974). A court may grant relief from a
federal conviction or sentence pursuant to § 2255
“upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in
violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States,
or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such
sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum
authorized by law or is otherwise subject to collateral
attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). “Relief under
this statute is available only in extraordinary situations,
such as an error of constitutional or jurisdictional
magnitude or where a fundamental defect has occurred which
results in a complete miscarriage of justice.”
Blake v. United States, 723 F.3d 870, 878-79 (7th
Cir. 2013) (citing Prewitt v. United States, 83 F.3d
812, 816 (7th Cir. 1996); Barnickel v. United
States, 113 F.3d 704, 705 (7th Cir. 1997)).
April 21, 2015, a grand jury returned an Indictment against
Covarrubias, charging him with one count of possession with
intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). United States v.
Covarrubias, No. 1:15-cr-00081-TWP-DKL (hereinafter
“Crim. Dkt.”) (Crim. Dkt. 11.) A Superseding
Indictment charged Covarrubias with Count 1: conspiracy to
possess with intent to distribute controlled substances in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846, and Count 2:
possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of
methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841. (Crim.
proceeded to trial on both counts. A jury found Covarrubias
guilty of Count 1 and Count 2. (Crim. Dkt. 100.) As to Count
1, the jury specifically found that the conspiracy involved
50 grams or more of methamphetamine. Id. Similarly,
on Count 2, it found that Covarrubias possessed with intent
to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
Id. Covarrubias was sentenced to concurrent terms of
225 months' imprisonment to be followed by five
years' supervised release. (Crim. Dkt. 113.) On September
9, 2016, he filed his Notice of Appeal. (Crim. Dkt. 117.)
appeal, Covarrubias challenged the Court's denial of his
motion to suppress, arguing that he had a legitimate
expectation of privacy in the car in which the
methamphetamine was found. See United States v.
Covarrubias, 847 F.3d 556, 558 (7th Cir. 2017). He also
contended that he did not knowingly waive his
Miranda rights. Id. The Seventh Circuit
rejected both arguments and affirmed the judgment of the
district court. Id.
United States Supreme Court denied Covarrubias' petition
for writ of certiorari on June 26, 2017. Covarrubias v.
United States, 137 S.Ct. 2312 (2017). Thereafter,
Covarrubias filed the instant motion for relief pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Dkt. 1; Dkt. 2; Crim. Dkt. 154; Crim.
Dkt. 155.) This motion is now fully briefed and ripe for
§ 2255 motion challenges his conviction, arguing that
trial counsel was ineffective in several ways. After
outlining the standard applicable to claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel, the Court will address each of his
arguments in turn.
petitioner claiming ineffective assistance of counsel bears
the burden of showing (1) that trial counsel's
performance fell below objective standards for reasonably
effective representation and (2) that this deficiency
prejudiced the defense. Strickland v. Washington,
466 U.S. 668, 688- 94 (1984); United States v.
Jones, 635 F .3d 909, 915 (7th Cir. 2011). If a
petitioner cannot establish one of the Strickland
prongs, the court need not consider the other. Groves v.
United States, 755 F.3d 588, 591 (7th Cir. 2014).
satisfy the first prong of the Strickland test, a
petitioner must direct the court to specific acts or
omissions of his counsel. Wyatt v. United States,
574 F.3d 455, 458 (7th Cir. 2009). The court must then
consider whether in light of all of the circumstances
counsel's performance was outside the wide range of
professionally competent assistance. Id. To satisfy
the second prong, prejudice, a petitioner must establish that
“there is a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the
proceeding would have been different.”
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694.