United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. Casper United States District Judge.
Samuel Stalin Lebreault Feliz (“Feliz”) has filed
a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 alleging ineffective assistance of counsel (the
“Petition”). D. 159. The government opposes the
Petition. D. 166. For the reasons discussed below, the Court
DENIES the Petition.
Standard of Review
prisoner may seek post-conviction relief under § 2255 if
his sentence “(1) was imposed in violation of the
Constitution; (2) was imposed by a court that lacked
jurisdiction; (3) exceeded the statutory maximum; or (4) was
otherwise subject to collateral attack.” David v.
United States, 134 F.3d 470, 474 (1st Cir. 1998). It is
the petitioner's burden to make out a claim for such
Factual and Procedural Background
jury trial, Feliz was convicted of two counts of passport
fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1542, one count of
false representations to the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) in violation of 42 U.S.C. §
408(a)(6) and one count of theft of public money pursuant to
18 U.S.C. § 641. D. 120. On May 29, 2014, the Court
sentenced Feliz to thirty-three months imprisonment, three
years of supervised release, a mandatory special assessment
of $400 and restitution (related to the theft of public funds
charge) in the amount of $ 121, 077. D. 132. Feliz filed a
timely notice of appeal and, on November 25, 2015, the First
Circuit affirmed the judgment. D. 156; United States v.
Feliz, 807 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2015).
Grounds for Relief
Petition, Feliz seeks relief on the grounds that he received
ineffective assistance of counsel from his trial attorney.
Although several of his seven grounds overlap, at base, Feliz
alleges that his trial counsel failed to prepare sufficiently
for trial, failed to object to certain testimony, failed to
prepare his necessity and duress defense and present same at
trial, failed to challenge the government's case on the
basis of alleged prosecutorial vindictiveness and failed to
maintain sufficient communication with him. D. 159.
Standard for Considering Ineffective Assistance of
demonstrate ineffective assistance of counsel, a petitioner
must show that: “(1) ‘counsel's
representation fell below an objective standard of
reasonableness' and (2) ‘there is a reasonable
probability that, but for counsel's errors, the result of
the proceeding would have been different.'” United
States v. Constant 814 F.3d 570, 578 (1st Cir. 2016) (quoting
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688, 694
is viewed “as of the time of counsel's
conduct.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 690.
Judicial scrutiny of a counsel's representation and
performance must be “highly deferential” and the
Court should make “every effort . . . to eliminate the
distorting effects of hindsight.” Bell v.
Cone, 535 U.S. 685, 698 (2002) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Moreover, even deficient representation does not
violate the Sixth Amendment if there was no actual prejudice.
See United States v. McGill, 11 F.3d 223, 226 (1st
demonstrate prejudice, the petitioner must show “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. A “reasonable probability” is one
‘sufficient to undermine confidence in the
outcome.'” Johnston v. Mitchell 871 F.3d