did not render Rodriguez' plea involuntary.
Rodriguez also attacks his conviction on the ground that he was denied effective assistance of counsel during the plea negotiations. To prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, Rodriguez must satisfy the two-prong test articulated in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 80 L. Ed. 2d 674, 104 S. Ct. 2052 (1984).
Under the first prong, he must demonstrate that his attorney's performance "fell below an objective standard of reasonableness." Id. 466 U. S. at 688, 104 S. Ct. at 2065. Strickland's second prong requires a showing of prejudice from the alleged deficiency in performance. Id. at 692, 104 S. Ct. at 2067. The burden is on Rodriguez to satisfy both requirements of the Strickland test. Santos v. Kolb, 880 F.2d 941, 943 (7th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 1059, 110 S. Ct. 873, 107 L. Ed. 2d 956 (1990).
In support of his ineffective-assistance claim, Rodriguez contends that his attorney advised him that he was eligible for an 80-year extended sentence -- a clear misstatement of the law. Assuming, without deciding, that this erroneous advice rendered counsel's performance deficient, Rodriguez has not made a sufficient showing of prejudice to justify setting aside his conviction.
A criminal defendant cannot satisfy the prejudice requirement without demonstrating that counsel's ineffective assistance actually affected the outcome of the plea proceeding. Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 59, 88 L. Ed. 2d 203, 106 S. Ct. 366, 370 (1985). There must be a reasonable probability that "but for counsel's errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and would have insisted on going to trial." Id. In light of the unsubstantiated assertions of ineffective assistance contained in Rodriguez' habeas petition, this court cannot reasonably determine that counsel's advice affected the outcome of the plea process. Regardless of whether Rodriguez was subject to an 80-year sentence, Judge Suria specifically informed Rodriguez that he was eligible for life imprisonment. As stated previously, the possibility of life imprisonment would certainly provide as much, if not more, of an incentive to plead guilty than would the threat of receiving an 80-year term of imprisonment.
Aside from the bald assertion that he would not have pleaded guilty, Rodriguez has provided no allegations detailing the reasons why he would have insisted on going to trial. The Seventh Circuit has repeatedly held that a criminal defendant must do more than simply allege that he would not have pleaded guilty; the defendant must specifically explain why he would have gone to trial. See Santos, 880 F.2d at 943 ("[a] specific explanation of why the defendant alleges he would have gone to trial is required"); Gargano v. United States, 852 F.2d 886, 890 (7th Cir. 1988) ("mere allegations by a defendant that he would have pleaded differently and insisted on going to trial are insufficient to establish prejudice"); Key v. United States, 806 F.2d 133, 139 (7th Cir. 1986) (a criminal defendant cannot establish ineffective assistance of counsel by merely alleging that "he would have pleaded differently and gone to trial"). Quite simply, Rodriguez cannot obtain habeas relief based on conclusory allegations of prejudice unsupported by specific facts.
For the foregoing reasons, the court denies Rodriguez' petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Rodriguez' motion for appointment of counsel is denied as moot.
IT IS SO ORDERED.