United States Court of Appeals
April 22, 2011
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS Elisabeth A. Shumaker
Clerk of Court
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
(D.C. Nos. 2:09-CV-00287-ABJ;[End Page 2:07-CR-00246-ABJ-1)]
ANTHONY L. CIOCCHETTI,
ORDER DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY *
Before KELLY, HARTZ, and HOLMES, Circuit Judges.
Petitioner Anthony L. Ciocchetti, a pro se litigant incarcerated in the
federal correctional facility in Florence, Colorado, 1 seeks a certificate of
appealability ("COA") to challenge the district court's denial of his petition for a
This order is not binding precedent, except under the doctrines of law
of the case, res judicata, and collateral estoppel. It may be cited, however, for its
persuasive value consistent with Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 32.1 and
Tenth Circuit Rule 32.1.
After examining the appellate record, this three-judge panel determined
unanimously that oral argument would not be of material assistance in the
determination of this appeal. See Fed. R. App. P. 34(a); 10th Cir. R. 34.1(G).
The case is therefore ordered submitted without oral argument.
Because Mr. Ciocchetti is proceeding pro se, we construe his filings
liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89
, 94 (2007) (per curiam); Van
Deelen v. Johnson, 497 F.3d 1151
, 1153 n.1 (10th Cir. 2007).
writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Exercising jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1291 and 2253(a), we DENY Mr. Ciocchetti's application and
DISMISS his appeal.
In February 2008, Mr. Ciocchetti was convicted by a jury in federal court
on charges of bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344, and making materially
false statements in connection with a bank loan application, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1014. He was sentenced to sixty-five months' imprisonment, to be
followed by five years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $460,122 in
restitution. Following his conviction, Mr. Ciocchetti appealed to this court,
challenging only the district court's calculation of the loss amount at his
sentencing. We affirmed. See United States v. Ciocchetti, 330 F. App'x 745
(10th Cir. 2009).
Mr. Ciocchetti then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United
States District Court for the District of Wyoming, asserting that he received
ineffective assistance of counsel. More specifically, he averred that his trial
attorneys were constitutionally deficient in (1) permitting a constructive
amendment of the indictment, (2) failing to cross-examine witnesses adequately,
(3) not asking for a limiting jury instruction, and (4) not raising a claim of error
under United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220
(2005), regarding the district court's
calculation of his advisory Guidelines sentencing range based upon facts that the
[End Page 2]
court found by a preponderance of the evidence. The district court found no merit
to these claims and denied both Mr. Ciocchetti's § 2255 petition and his request
for an evidentiary hearing. It also denied him a COA. Mr. Ciocchetti now seeks
STANDARD OF REVIEW
A COA is a jurisdictional prerequisite to this court's review of a § 2255
motion. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(1)(B); accord Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322
336 (2003); United States v. Gonzalez, 596 F.3d 1228
, 1241 (10th Cir. 2010).
"We will issue a COA â€˜only if the applicant has made a substantial showing of the
denial of a constitutional right.'" Allen v. Zavaras, 568 F.3d 1197
, 1199 (10th
Cir. 2009) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2)); accord Clark v. Oklahoma, 468 F.3d 711
, 713 (10th Cir. 2006). Under this standard, "the applicant must show â€˜that
reasonable jurists could debate whether . . . the petition should have been
resolved in a different manner or that the issues presented were adequate to
deserve encouragement to proceed further.'" United States v. Taylor, 454 F.3d 1075
, 1078 (10th Cir. 2006) (quoting Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473
(2000)). "In other words, the applicant must show that the district court's
resolution of the constitutional claim was either â€˜debatable or wrong.'" Id.
(quoting Slack, 529 U.S. at 484).
Importantly, our inquiry does not necessitate a "full consideration of the
factual or legal bases adduced in support of the claims." Miller-El, 537 U.S. at
[End Page 3]
336. Rather, all that is required is "an overview of the claims . . . and a general
assessment of their merits." Id. Although Mr. Ciocchetti is not required to
demonstrate that his appeal will succeed in order to obtain a COA, he must "prove
something more than the absence of frivolity or the existence of mere good faith
on his or her part." Id. at 338 (quoting Barefoot v. Estelle, 463 U.S. 880
(1983)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Mr. Ciocchetti seeks a COA so as to challenge the district court's denial of
his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. In his application, he reasserts three
of the four grounds that he raised belowâ€"viz., that he received ineffective
assistance of counsel when his attorneys (1) allowed a constructive amendment to
the indictment, (2) failed to adequately cross-examine a key witness, and (3) did
not challenge the trial court's use of "facts" not found by a jury to enhance his
advisory Guidelines range. In addition, Mr. Ciocchetti maintains that "the lower
court ought to have granted an evidentiary hearing to resolve the genuine material
facts at issue between what [Mr. Ciocchetti] claimed in his [original habeas
petition] and what [the government] said excused [its] willful misrepresentation
of the facts and evidence." Aplt. Combined Opening Br. & COA Appl. at iv.
I. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims
Where a "COA application rests on claims of ineffective assistance of
counsel, in order to determine if [a movant] can make a substantial showing of the
[End Page 4]
denial of a constitutional right we must undertake a preliminary analysis . . . in
light of the two-part test for ineffective assistance" articulated in Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668
(1984). United States v. Harris, 368 F. App'x 866,
868 (10th Cir. 2010). "Under Strickland, [a movant] must show that counsel's
performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness as measured
against prevailing professional norms, and he must show that there is a reasonable
probability that the outcome would have been different but for counsel's
inadequate performance." Sandoval v. Ulibarri, 548 F.3d 902
, 909 (10th Cir.
2008) (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688).
"When, as here, [a] basis for the ineffective assistance claim is the failure
to raise an issue, we must look to the merits of the omitted issue." United States
v. Orange, 447 F.3d 792
, 797 (10th Cir. 2006). "If the omitted issue is without
merit, counsel's failure to raise it â€˜does not constitute constitutionally ineffective
assistance of counsel.'" United States v. Cook, 45 F.3d 388
, 393 (10th Cir. 1995)
(quoting United States v. Dixon, 1 F.3d 1080
, 1084 n.5 (10th Cir. 1993)); accord
Orange, 447 F.3d at 797; cf. Smith v. Robbins, 528 U.S. 259
, 288 (2000)
("[A]ppellate counsel who files a merits brief need not (and should not) raise
every nonfrivolous claim, but rather may select from among them in order to
maximize the likelihood of success on appeal." (citing Jones v. Barnes, 463 U.S. 745
, 751â€"52 (1983))).
[End Page 5]
A. Constructive Amendment Claim
In his application, Mr. Ciocchetti first asserts that his trial attorneys
rendered constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to object to
the constructive amendment of the Indictment. Count Three of the Indictment
On or about November 29, 2006, at Gillette, in the District of
Wyoming, the Defendant, ANTHONY L. CIOCCHETTI, did
knowingly make materially false statements for the purpose of
influencing the actions of Bank of the West, the deposits of
which were then insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation, and in connection with the Defendant's acquisition
of two lines of credit totaling $125,500, which statements
included: the use of false IRS Individual Tax Returns . . . .
R. at 255 (Dist. Ct. Order Denying Mot. to Vacate Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255, filed Nov. 3, 2010) (emphasis added). At trial, however, the government
failed to prove the IRS tax returns were false, and a jury instruction was
subsequently submitted as to Count Three that replaced the IRS tax returns with a
Merrill Lynch account statement that had been proven false. As he did before the
district court, Mr. Ciocchetti argues that this change resulted in a constructive
amendment of the Indictment. Furthermore, he claims that "counsel ought to
have objected to the constructive amendment, if for no other reason than it came
after defense rested." Aplt. Combined Opening Br. & COA Appl. at 16.
The district court dismissed Mr. Ciocchetti's constructive-amendment claim
[End Page 6]
on the grounds that, at most, the jury instruction effectuated a non-prejudicial
variance, rather than a constructive amendment, and thus his attorneys were not
ineffective for failing to challenge it. Reasonable jurists could not disagree with
this resolution. A constructive amendment occurs when
the Government, through evidence presented at trial, or the
district court, through instructions to the jury, broadens the basis
for a defendant's conviction beyond acts charged in the
indictment. To constitute a constructive amendment, the district
court proceedings must modify an essential element of the
offense or raise the possibility that the defendant was convicted
of an offense other than that charged in the indictment. Where
an indictment properly pleads violation of a statute, and the
defendant was not misled about the nature of the charges, his
substantive rights are not prejudiced.
United States v. Cruz-Rodriguez, 570 F.3d 1179
, 1182 (10th Cir. 2009) (quoting
United States v. Van Tieu, 279 F.3d 917
, 921 (10th Cir. 2002)) (internal quotation
marks omitted); accord United States v. Farr, 536 F.3d 1174
, 1180 (10th Cir.
2008). A constructive amendment "is reversible per se." United States v. Vigil,
523 F.3d 1258
, 1265 (10th Cir. 2009). In contrast, "[a] simple variance arises
when the evidence adduced at trial establishes facts different from those alleged
in the indictment, and triggers harmless error analysis." United States v. Sells,
477 F.3d 1226
, 1237 (10th Cir. 2007).
The district court was clearly correct in its determination that the trial
court's substitution of the Merrill Lynch account statement for the IRS tax returns
in the jury instruction did not amount to a constructive amendment. The
[End Page 7]
Indictment charged Mr. Ciocchetti in general terms, indicating that the false
statements included the IRS tax returns. This language broadened rather than
limited the Indictment, thereby allowing the government to use evidence beyond
the IRS tax returns to show the use of false statements without "misle[ading Mr.
Ciocchetti] about the nature of the charge" against him. Cruz-Rodriguez, 573
F.3d at 1182 (emphasis added) (quoting Van Tieu, 279 F.3d at 921) (internal
quotation marks omitted); see Stirone v. United States, 361 U.S. 212
, 218 (1960)
(stating that, under an indictment "drawn in general terms," a conviction might
rest on a showing of evidence beyond that which is specifically identified in the
indictment); cf. United States v. Rivera, 837 F.2d 906
, 929 (10th Cir. 1988)
("[A]n indictment may be drafted in general terms so long as it apprises the
defendant of the nature of the charge against him."), vacated on other grounds,
900 F.2d 1462
(10th Cir. 1990) (en banc). Thus, Mr. Ciocchetti fails to satisfy
the first prong of Strickland: in not advancing the clearly meritless proposition
that the jury instruction resulted in a constructive amendment, his attorneys'
performance did not "f[a]ll below an objective standard of reasonableness."
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687; see also Cook, 45 F.3d at 393 (noting that counsel is
not ineffective for failing to bring meritless claims); cf. United States v. Gibson,
55 F.3d 173
, 179 (5th Cir. 1995) ("Counsel is not required by the Sixth
Amendment to file meritless motions.").
[End Page 8]
Furthermore, even if we assume, arguendo, that the government's
substitution of the Merrill Lynch statement resulted in a simple variance, Mr.
Ciocchettiâ€"as the district court notedâ€"was not prejudiced by it, and, as a result,
his attorneys' failure to raise a challenge based upon this substitution cannot
satisfy the second prong of Strickland either. "A variance will cause a conviction
to be overturned only when . . . â€˜the defendant is prejudiced in his defense
because he cannot anticipate from the indictment what evidence will be presented
against him or is exposed to the risk of double jeopardy.'" United States v.
Hamilton, 992 F.2d 1126
, 1130 (10th Cir. 1993) (quoting Hunter v. New Mexico,
916 F.2d 595
, 599 (10th Cir. 1990)). Neither situation is applicable here.
First, Mr. Ciocchetti received adequate notice that the veracity of the
Merrill Lynch account statement was at issueâ€"it was listed in the Indictment
under another charge, and Mr. Ciocchetti defended against it at trial. See United
States v. Boston, 718 F.2d 1511
, 1516 (10th Cir. 1983) ("We . . . believe that
Boston had ample notice from the indictment of the acts for which he was to be
tried. The convictions were not based on facts outside the scope of the indictment
[as a whole] . . . ." (citation omitted)); United States v. Tomasetta, 429 F.2d 978
979 (1st Cir. 1970) (recognizing that the "question is whether the indictment as a
whole conveys sufficient information to properly identify the conduct relied upon
by the grand jury in preferring the charge" (emphasis added)); see also United
States v. Withers, 210 F.3d 391
, 2000 WL 376619, at *3 (10th Cir. Apr. 13, 2000)
[End Page 9]
(unpublished table decision) ("The indictment in this case, read as a whole,
clearly appraised Withers of the charges against him and, thus, was sufficient."
Second, the change between the Indictment and the jury instruction did not
expose Mr. Ciocchetti to a potential double-jeopardy risk because, "[f]or purposes
of barring a future prosecution, it is the judgment and not the indictment alone
which acts as a bar, and the entire record may be considered in evaluating a
subsequent claim of double jeopardy." United States v. Whitman, 665 F.2d 313
318 (10th Cir. 1981) (emphasis added) (quoting United States v. Henry, 504 F.2d 1335
, 1338 (10th Cir. 1974)) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Boston,
718 F.2d at 1515. The record in this case clearly identifies the basis for Mr.
Ciocchetti's convictions, giving him ample protection against future prosecution
for the same crimes.
Accordingly, even if a simple variance did occur, it was harmless, and Mr.
Ciocchetti, therefore, cannot show prejudice as a result. Because his claim does
not satisfy either prong of Strickland, Mr. Ciocchetti has failed to make a
substantial showing of a denial of a constitutional right based on his attorneys'
failure to raise this challenge. Reasonable jurists could not disagree with this
[End Page 10]
B. Failure to Adequately Cross-Examine Claim
Mr. Ciocchetti next maintains that his attorneys were constitutionally
ineffective because they failed to adequately cross-examine Feron Ferguson, the
president of Pinnacle Bank, regarding two insufficient funds checks that
eventually served as the basis for his conviction of bank fraud, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1344. 2 Mr. Ciocchetti claims that Mr. Ferguson "knew when he received
the January 2 and 6 checks that they were not good," and that this "defeats any
argument that [he] intended to defraud the Pinnacle Bank through the presentment
of these checks." Aplt. Combined Opening Br. & COA Appl. at 18. At trial,
however, Mr. Ferguson denied knowing the accounts were overdrawn when he
attempted to deposit the two checksâ€"totaling $90,000â€"that Mr. Ciocchetti had
given him. Mr. Ciocchetti argues that he provided his attorneys with strong
evidence to the contrary, and that they nevertheless refused to adequately
challenge Mr. Ferguson's testimony. He contends that his attorneys' actions were
In this application, Mr. Ciocchetti asserts that his attorneys were
ineffective not only for failure to competently cross-examine Mr. Ferguson, but
also for "fail[ure] to investigate the facts and interview witnessess who would
have verified" his account. Aplt. Combined Opening Br. & COA Appl. at 17.
Beyond this cursory reference, however, Mr. Ciocchetti makes no effort to
develop his failure-to-investigate claim, and, therefore, we will not address it
further. See Bronson v. Swensen, 500 F.3d 1099
, 1104 (10th Cir. 2007) ("[W]e
routinely have declined to consider arguments that are not raised, or are
inadequately presented, in an appellant's opening brief."); see also Matthews v.
McKune, 133 F. App'x 512, 514 (10th Cir. 2005) (recognizing that the appellant's
claim on appeal had been "abandoned" because, although "his motion for a COA
. . . briefly assert[ed]" the claim, "he d[id] not brief the issue").
[End Page 11]
blatantly prejudicial as, had his attorneys "cross-examined [Mr. Ferguson]
effectively, the jury would have seen through his lies in an instant." Id. at 19.
We need not tarry long on this issue. Even assuming that Mr. Ciocchetti's
attorneys should have more vigorously questioned Mr. Ferguson, and thus the
first prong of the Strickland test was met, Mr. Ciocchetti cannot show prejudice
as a result. "Under § 1344, â€˜the intent necessary for a bank fraud conviction is an
intent to deceive the bank in order to obtain from it money or other property.'"
United States v. Gallant, 537 F.3d 1202
, 1223 (10th Cir. 2008) (emphasis added)
(quoting United States v. Kenrick, 221 F.3d 19
, 26â€"27 (1st Cir. 2000) (en banc)).
Accordingly, we have held that "[i]t is the financial institution itselfâ€"not its
officers or agentsâ€"that is the victim of the fraud [18 U.S.C. § 1344] proscribes."
United States v. Waldroop, 431 F.3d 736
, 742 (10th Cir. 2005) (second alteration
in original) (quoting United States v. Saks, 964 F.2d 1514
, 1518â€"19 (5th Cir.
1992)) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also United States v. Rackley, 986 F.2d 1357
, 1361 (10th Cir. 1993) ("Defendant confuses the notion of defrauding a
federally insured bank with the idea of defrauding its owner or directors. It is the
financial institution itselfâ€"not its directors or agentsâ€"that is the victim of the
fraud the statute proscribes."). "Thus, even if [a bank official] kn[ows] the true
nature of [a] transaction, the institution could nevertheless be defrauded."
Rackley, 986 F.2d at 1361; see also Gallant, 537 F.3d at 1224 n.13 (collecting
[End Page 12]
As a result, even had Mr. Ciocchetti's attorneys done exactly what he now
claims they should have done, and thereby revealed that Mr. Ferguson knew there
were insufficient funds in the relevant accounts to cover the disputed checks, that
would not precludeâ€"as Mr. Ciocchetti seems to believeâ€"a finding that he
committed bank fraud. At most, it would have shown that Mr. Ferguson was
complicit in Mr. Ciocchetti's fraud, and "[j]ust because [Mr. Ferguson] w[as]
complicit in the scheme does not mean that [Pinnacle Bank], as an institution,
knew or approved of what [Mr. Ciocchetti] w[as] doing." Gallant, 537 F.3d at
1225. Consequently, Mr. Ciocchetti cannot establish prejudice based upon his
attorneys' failure to cross-examine Mr. Ferguson, and therefore cannot satisfy the
second prong of the Strickland standard. Thus, reasonable jurists could not
disagree with the district court's resolution of this claim.
C. Booker Sentencing Claim
In addition, Mr. Ciocchetti claims that his attorneys were ineffective in
failing to object when, at sentencing, the district court determinedâ€"allegedly in
errorâ€"that he intended losses of over $5,000,000. The court's finding, which
was based on a preponderance of the evidence, resulted in the court adding
eighteen points to his base offense level of seven. This, in turn, yielded an
advisory Guidelines range of fifty-seven to seventy-one months of imprisonment,
well above the thirty to thirty-seven month range that he claims would otherwise
[End Page 13]
Mr. Ciocchetti maintains that "the lower court burst through its prescribed
jurisdiction and authority" when it "decided on a civil standard of preponderance
of the evidence" that the total amount actually exceeded the $232,724.74 in losses
that the jury found using the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard. Aplt.
Combined Opening Br. & COA Appl. at 26. As he understands it, "[a]ny
additional alleged losses were separate crimes [from the crimes of conviction] . . .
and were not jury-found," and therefore the district court "exceeded [its]
jurisdiction when [it] found [him] guilty on charges which carried their own
prison-time sanctions, then used this preponderance-of-the-evidence-found-guilt
to . . . impose a sentence of up to three years longer than the . . . range
authorized." Id. at 28â€"29. Mr. Ciocchetti believes that, "[h]ad counsel not
provided ineffective assistance [by not challenging the district court's actions in
this regard], there is more than a reasonable probability that the result of the
sentencing proceeding and/or the direct appeal would have been different." Id. at
The district court found no merit to Mr. Ciocchetti's underlying claim, and
we agree. Under the post-Booker advisory Guidelines regime, "[t]he Sixth
Amendment is not violated when a district court finds additional facts by a
preponderance standard in order to calculate an advisory Guidelines range."
United States v. Urbano, 563 F.3d 1150
, 1156 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 130 S. Ct. 434
(2009); accord United States v. Magallanez, 408 F.3d 672
, 685 (10th Cir.
[End Page 14]
2005); United States v. Dalton, 409 F.3d 1247
, 1252 (10th Cir. 2005). There is
nothing in the record to suggest that the district court treated the calculated
Guidelines range as anything other than advisory, and consequently there was no
constitutional violation in the district court's use of facts found only by a
preponderance of the evidence to enhance Mr. Ciocchetti's sentence. 3 See United
States v. Townley, 472 F.3d 1267
, 1276 (10th Cir. 2007) ("Appellant incorrectly
argues that Booker error occurs any time a district court enhances a sentence
based on facts not found by a jury. Rather, after Booker, a district court is not
precluded from relying on judge-found facts in determining the applicable
Guidelines range so long as the Guidelines are considered as advisory rather than
We have repeatedly affirmed this principle in similar situations. See, e.g.,
United States v. Washington, 634 F.3d 1180
, 1184 (10th Cir. 2011) (instructing
Mr. Ciocchetti faults the district court for not considering the
Supreme Court's holding in Cunningham v. California, 549 U.S. 270
when addressing this claim. See Aplt. Combined Opening Br. & COA Appl. at
24â€"25. Cunningham, Mr. Ciocchetti suggests, stands for the proposition that "any
[judge-found] fact which increases the sentence to which a defendant is exposed
violates the Sixth Amendment." Id. at 25. Mr. Ciocchetti, of course, reads
Cunningham too broadly. Cunningham addressed this question in the context of
the California sentencing guidelines, whichâ€"unlike the federal sentencing
guidelinesâ€"are mandatory. See Cunningham, 549 U.S. at 277. For this reason,
we have previously rejected calls to reconsider our jurisprudence on this issue in
the wake of Cunningham, and we do so again today. See United States v. Ellis,
525 F.3d 960
, 966 (10th Cir. 2008) (refusing to "revisit our decision[s] in light
of . . . Cunningham" because "California law called for mandatory sentencing,
unlike the federal Sentencing Guidelines rendered advisory by Booker").
[End Page 15]
that a court, when making a net loss calculation for a fraud under U.S.S.G.
§ 2B1.1(b), "may use loss information that is supported by a preponderance of the
evidence"); United States v. Sutton, 520 F.3d 1259
, 1262 (10th Cir. 2008) ("[W]e
recognize that the government has the burden of proving loss [under U.S.S.G.
§ 2B1.1(b)(1)] by a preponderance of the evidence."); United States v. Galloway,
509 F.3d 1246
, 1251 (10th Cir. 2007) ("The government has the burden of
proving actual and intended loss by preponderance of the evidence."); see also
United States v. Dazey, 242 F. App'x 563, 568, 572â€"73 (10th Cir. 2007)
(affirming the district court's imposition of a twenty-level enhancement under
U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1(b)(1)(K) for losses of more than $7,000,000 based on the
preponderance of the evidence, despite the jury's finding that only $2,292,500
went directly to the defendant as a result of his role in a large-scale investment
fraud conspiracy); cf. United States v. Rodriguez-Felix, 450 F.3d 1117
(10th Cir. 2006) (approving the district court's use of uncharged conduct, proved
by a preponderance of the evidence, to increase the total quantity of drugs
attributed to the defendant). Accordingly, Mr. Ciocchetti has failed to make a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right in this regard.
Reasonable jurists thus could not disagree with the district court's resolution of
[End Page 16]
II. Evidentiary Hearing Request
Finally, Mr. Ciocchetti challenges the district court's denial of his request
for an evidentiary hearing. We review the district court's decision to deny an
evidentiary hearing for abuse of discretion. Hooks v. Workman, 606 F.3d 715
731 (10th Cir. 2010).
Mr. Ciocchetti suggests that an evidentiary hearing is necessary so as to
"enable [him] to demonstrate the fact that [Mr.] Ferguson's claims were
incredible and unbelievable in light of . . . what he did, said, and the evidence
presented." Aplt. Combined Opening Br. & COA Appl. at 23. As discussed
above, however, each of Mr. Ciocchetti's claims are "resolvable solely on the
basis of the existing record." Hooks, 606 F.3d at 731; see also 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(b) (stating that an evidentiary hearing is not required where "the motion
and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is
entitled to no relief"). As such, the district court did not abuse its discretion in
denying Mr. Ciocchetti's request for an evidentiary hearing.
[End Page 17]
For the foregoing reasons, we DENY Mr. Ciocchetti's application for a
COA and DISMISS his appeal.
ENTERED FOR THE COURT
Jerome A. Holmes
[End Page 18]