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Rodriguez v. Bush

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

November 23, 2016

NICANOR PEREZ RODRIGUEZ, Petitioner - Appellant,
v.
DENNIS BUSH, Warden, Respondent - Appellee. NICANOR PEREZ RODRIGUEZ, Petitioner - Appellant,
v.
DENNIS BUSH, Warden, Respondent - Appellee.

          Argued: September 20, 2016

         Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, at Rock Hill. Terry L. Wooten, Chief District Judge. (0:13-cv-03401-TLW)

         Affirmed by published opinion. Judge Floyd wrote the opinion, in which Judge Keenan and Judge Thacker joined.

         ARGUED:

          Matthew Jay Kappel, Greenville, South Carolina, for Appellant.

          Alphonso Simon, Jr., OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF SOUTH CAROLINA, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Alan Wilson, Attorney General, John W. McIntosh, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Donald J. Zelenka, Assistant Deputy Attorney General, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF SOUTH CAROLINA, Columbia, South Carolina, for Appellee.

          Before KEENAN, FLOYD, and THACKER, Circuit Judges.

          FLOYD, Circuit Judge.

         Nicanor Perez Rodriguez appeals the order of the district court below denying his 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition.

         Immediately before Rodriguez's state criminal trial for drug trafficking, the trial judge rejected a plea agreement reached between Rodriguez and the state prosecutor. The judge did so off the record, and gave no reason for this rejection other than stating that he "was ready to try a case." J.A. 167. Rodriguez's attorney did not object to the rejection of the plea, nor did he ask the judge to place his reasons for rejecting the plea on the record. Rodriguez contends that his counsel's failure to object constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel. He asks this Court for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254.

         To prevail on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, Rodriguez must show (1) "that counsel's performance was deficient" and (2) "that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). Rodriguez has not shown that his defense was prejudiced by his counsel's alleged error. For this reason, we affirm the decision of the district court.

         I.

         In 2009, a South Carolina jury convicted Rodriguez on multiple counts of drug trafficking. The trial court sentenced Rodriguez ...


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