Jesus Arreola-Castillo v. United States

In the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit ____________________ No. 17-1439 JESUS ARREOLA-CASTILLO, Petitioner-Appellant, v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent-Appellee. ____________________ Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. No. 14-cv-2118 — Larry J. McKinney, Judge. ____________________ ARGUED APRIL 10, 2018 — DECIDED MAY 3, 2018 ____________________ Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and FLAUM and KANNE, Circuit Judges. FLAUM, Circuit Judge. Petitioner Jesus Arreola-Castillo was convicted of a federal drug crime. Because he had at least two prior felony drug convictions in New Mexico, he was subject to the recidivism provisions of 21 U.S.C. § 841. Pursuant to that statute, he received a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison. He subsequently challenged the underlying fel- ony drug convictions in New Mexico state court, which the 2 No. 17-1439 state court ultimately vacated. Now, he moves to reopen his federal sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that he is no longer subject to the recidivism enhancement because the prior state convictions have been vacated. The district court denied his § 2255 petition on the ground that it was time- barred. It relied on 21 U.S.C. § 851(e), which prohibits an in- dividual from challenging the validity of a prior conviction that is more than five years old at the time the government seeks the recidivism enhancement. Because Arreola-Castillo is not challenging the validity of his prior convictions, but ra- ther their very existence, we reverse. I. Background In 2006, a jury found Arreola-Castillo guilty of conspiracy to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. The government filed two informations under 21 U.S.C. § 851 alleging that Arreola-Cas- tillo had previously been convicted of two felony drug of- fenses in New Mexico in 1996. Because he had two or more prior felony drug convictions, the district court was required to impose a mandatory life sentence under the recidivism pro- visions of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A). Had it not been for the mandatory life sentence, Arreola-Castillo’s Guidelines sen- tencing range would have been 188–235 months in prison. We affirmed Arreola-Castillo’s sentence on direct appeal in 2008. See United States v. Arreola-Castillo, 539 F.3d 700 (7th Cir. 2008). Arreola-Castillo subsequently challenged both underlying state convictions in New Mexico state courts. He moved to withdraw the guilty pleas in those convictions on the ground that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, Arreola-Castillo claimed that his attorney did not inquire into No. 17-1439 3 his immigration status or sufficiently advise him of the immi- gration consequences of pleading guilty. The New Mexico state courts agreed and accordingly vacated the convictions on November 19, 2014 and June 29, 2015. In December 2014, after his first conviction was vacated, Arreola-Castillo moved to reopen his federal sentence under § 2255. The government initially moved to dismiss the peti- tion as an unauthorized second or successive petition under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2244 and 2255(h). The court denied that motion, ...

Original document
Source: All recent Immigration Decisions In All the U.S. Courts of Appeals