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Davis v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

November 7, 2016

JAMES H. DAVIS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Leon Jordan United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Petitioner's pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [Doc. 32]. He bases his request for relief on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), in which the Supreme Court held that the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), was unconstitutionally vague [Id.]. The United States responded in opposition [Doc. 33]. Petitioner did not reply and the time for doing so has now passed. E.D. Tenn. L.R. 7.1, 7.2. For the following reasons, Petitioner's § 2255 motion [Doc. 32] will be DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2015, Petitioner pled guilty pursuant to a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement to, and was subsequently convicted of, six Hobbs Act robberies, all in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951; and one count of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) [Docs. 17, 27]. In accordance with the plea agreement, Petitioner received an aggregate term of 300 months' imprisonment [Doc. 27 (noting that the pela agreement involved dismissal of a second § 924(c) count, which would have subjected Petitioner to an additional twenty-five year term of incarceration)]. No direct appeal was taken. On July 22, 2016, Petitioner filed the instant request for vacatur of his § 924(c) conviction in light of Johnson.[1]

         II. ANALYSIS

         Petitioner's appears to argue that the Johnson decision invalidated the similarly-worded residual clause in § 924(c)(3)(B), thereby removing Hobbs Act robbery from the list of “crimes of violence” sufficient to support a conviction under § 924(c)(1)(A) [Doc. 32 (arguing that he is entitled to vacatur of his § 924(c) conviction)]. His argument fails for two reasons.

         First, binding Sixth Circuit precedent holds that while Johnson invalidated the residual provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. 924(e), and identically worded clause in Section 4B1.2 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, § 924(c)(3)(B)'s definition of crime of violence remains unaffected.[2] See United States v. Pawlak, 822 F.3d 902, 911 (6th Cir. 2016) (concluding “rationale of Johnson applies equally” to the Guidelines' definition of crime of violence); United States v. Taylor, 814 F.3d 340, 376-79 (6th Cir. 2016) (recognizing at least four “significant differences” between the residual clause in § 924(c)(3)(B) and the ACCA's residual clause and noting “the argument that Johnson effectively invalidated [the former] is . . . without merit”). As such, the Hobbs Act robberies remain crimes of violence capable of supporting the conviction under § 924(c)(1)(A).

         Second, even if Johnson's reasoning could be used to invalidate § 924(c)(3)(B)'s residual clause, Petitioner's convictions for Hobbs Act robbery would remain crimes of violence under the provision because they qualify under the use-of-physical-force clause contained in § 924(c)(3)(A). An offense qualifies as a crime of violence if it “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3)(A). Petitioner's convictions for Hobbs Act robbery, which by definition involves the taking of property “by means of actual or threatened force, or violence, or fear of injury, ” 18 U.S.C. § 1951(b)(1), categorically fall within the scope of that provision. See, e.g., In re Fleur, No. 16-12299, 2016 WL 3190539, at *3 (11th Cir. June 8, 2016) (finding, post-Johnson, that Hobbs Act robbery categorically qualifies as a crime of violence under the use-of-physical-force clause in 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3)(A)); United States v. Howard, No. 15-10042, 2016 WL 2961978, at *1 (9th Cir. May 23, 2016) (same); accord United States v. House, No. 14-3011, 2016 WL 3144735, at *3 (8th Cir. June 2016) (finding that Hobbs Act robbery categorically qualifies as a “serious violent felony” under 18 U.S.C. § 3559(c)(2)(F)(ii)'s use-of-physical-force clause); United States v. McBride, No. 15-3759, 2016 WL 3209496, at *2 (6th Cir. June 10, 2016) (finding that federal bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a), which can be committed “by force and violence, or by intimidation, ” falls within the Section 4B1.2(a)'s use-of-physical-force clause); United States v. Mitchell, 743 F.3d 1054, 1058-60 (6th Cir. 2014) (finding that Tennessee robbery, which can be committed “by violence or putting the person in fear, ” categorically qualifies as a violent felony under the ACCA's use-of-physical-force clause). In light of the foregoing, Johnson does not apply and thus cannot operate as a basis for relief.

         IV. CONCLUSION

         For the reasons discussed, Petitioner's § 2255 motion [Doc. 32] will be DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The Court will CERTIFY any appeal from this action would not be taken in good faith and would be totally frivolous. Therefore, this Court will DENY Petitioner leave to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal. See Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure. Petitioner having failed to make a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right, a certificate of appealability SHALL NOT ISSUE. 28 U.S.C. § 2253; Rule 22(b) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.

         IT IS SO ORDERED.

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Notes:

[1] This Court finds that it need not determine whether Petitioner submitted the collateral challenge within the one-year period under ยง 2255(f) because, even if it were timely, the ...


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