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Jimenez v. Williams

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 20, 2017

Jonathan Jimenez, Petitioner
v.
Brian E. Williams, et al., Respondents

          ORDER DENYING PETITION AND DECLINING TO ISSUE CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY [ECF NO. 6]

          Jennifer A. Dorsey United States District Judge.

         Nevada state-prison inmate Jonathan Jimenez brings this § 2254 petition to challenge his state-court conviction and sentence for robbery and assault with use of a deadly weapon.[1] Having reviewed Jimenez's petition, respondents' answer, and the supporting documents, I find that Jimenez is not entitled to federal habeas relief on any of his claims, so I deny the petition. Because no reasonable jurist would find my conclusions in this order to be debatable or wrong, I decline to issue a certificate of appealability.

         Background

         In October 2011, a jury in Nevada's Eighth Judicial District Court convicted Jimenez of robbery with use of a deadly weapon and assault with a deadly weapon. The state district court sentenced him to 34-180 months on the robbery charge[2] followed by a consecutive term of 34-180 months for the use of a deadly weapon, with no credit for time served.[3] After the Nevada Supreme Court confirmed the conviction on direct appeal, [4] Jimenez filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence[5] and a post-conviction habeas petition.[6] The state district court denied Jimenez's motion and petition, [7] and the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed.[8]

         Jimenez timely dispatched this federal habeas petition on March 12, 2014.[9] Respondents have filed an answer, [10] and Jimenez has filed a reply.[11] Jimenez alleges that the trial court erroneously failed to give him credit for the 668 days he served before his sentencing (ground one), that he received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel because appellate counsel failed to present Jimenez's theory of defense or communicate with him during the appeals process (grounds two and three), and that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to conduct adequate research and present Jimenez's theory of defense.

         Discussion

         A. Ground one is not cognizable on federal habeas review.

         In ground one, Jimenez alleges that the state district court denied him credit for 668 days he served in pretrial detention in violation of his Fourteenth Amendment due-process rights.[12] The record reflects that Jimenez was not given any credit for time served in this case because the sentencing judge determined that this time was properly credited toward another state-court conviction in a different case.[13] Jimenez raised this argument in his motion to correct illegal sentence. In affirming the denial of that motion, the Nevada Supreme Court explained that this claim “fell outside the very narrow scope of claims permissible in a motion to correct an illegal sentence” under Nevada law, which may attack “only the facial legality of a sentence.”[14] Because this claim challenges the state courts' application and interpretation of Nevada state law, it is not cognizable on federal habeas review.[15] Accordingly, Jimenez is not entitled to federal habeas relief on ground one.

         B. Ineffective assistance of counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)

         In Strickland v. Washington, the United States Supreme Court established a two-prong test for ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims.[16] A petitioner must show (1) that the defense attorney's representation “fell below an objective standard of reasonableness” and (2) that the attorney's deficient performance prejudiced the defendant so severely that “there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.”[17] If a state court has adjudicated a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, federal habeas courts ask only “whether there is any reasonable argument that counsel satisfied Strickland's deferential standard.”[18]

         C. Jimenez is not entitled to federal habeas relief on his ineffective-assistance claims.

         1. Ground two and three

         In ground two, Jimenez alleges that his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to file a supplemental brief arguing that Jimenez did not intend to discharge the weapon and did so only after being provoked by and wrestling with one of the victims.[19] First, this claim is partially unexhausted because Jimenez did not argue that he did not intend to discharge the weapon in state court; there he alleged only that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise unspecified claims in a supplemental brief. In affirming the denial of that claim, the Nevada Supreme Court held that Jimenez failed to set forth any issues that should have been filed in a supplemental brief and failed to show that these issues would have been successful if raised on direct appeal.

         Because the state court adjudicated this IAC claim on the merits, my inquiry is limited to “whether there is any reasonable argument that counsel satisfied Strickland's deferential standard.”[20]There is a reasonable argument that Jimenez's appellate counsel satisfied Strickland because Jimenez still has not shown that counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the issues that Jimenez has now identified or shown that the outcome of his direct appeal would have been different had counsel raised these issues. I therefore deny ground two.

         Ground three is also a claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. Jimenez baldly alleges that appellate counsel failed to communicate with him during the appeals process, which prejudiced Jimenez because appellate counsel did not raise all of the issues that Jimenez wanted raised. In affirming the denial of this claim, the Supreme Court found that this “bare” claim failed to explain how communication with appellate counsel would have changed the outcome of Jimenez's direct appeal or demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits.[21] Jimenez still fails to adequately explain how counsel's ...


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