Diaz v. United States

The Facts

The defendant, Ricardo Diaz, who has petitioned with the US Court of Appeals, was co-conspirator  to possess heroin with intent to distribute. He contended that his guilty plea was based on his counsel’s alleged deficient performance. The defendant was alleged to have prejudice regarding counsel’s errors that he would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial.

Procedural History

The US Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the district court.


To show ineffective assistance of counsel, a petitioner must without a reasonable doubt demonstrate that (1) his counsel’s performance was deficient and (2) he suffered prejudice as a result. A court is not obliged to address both components of the inquiry if the petitioner’s evidence is not strong enough to prove any of those components.

The Issue

Whether the district court erred when it denied his claim without an evidentiary hearing that his counsel rendered ineffective assistance.

The Holding/Reasoning

“Even if petitioner’s cousin had testified that he (i.e. defendant) was not a member of the conspiracy, the likely outcome of the trial would not have changed… In light of the weak evidence the inmate (i.e. defendant)  alleged his counsel failed to investigate adequately, here was not a reasonable probability his counsel would have advised him to go to trial. Therefore, the inmate had shown prejudice.”

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