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Windham v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga

November 8, 2016

JASON LEE WINDHAM, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          Judge Travis R. McDonough

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          TRAVIS R. MCDONOUGH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court now is Petitioner's pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. 29.) 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 on August 3, 2016. (Doc. 30.) 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 will be DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2005, Petitioner pled guilty to, and was subsequently convicted of, two Hobbs Act robberies, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951, and two counts of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). (Docs. 20, 25.) This Court calculated the applicable Guideline range as 423 to 438 months' imprisonment- consisting in part of cumulative statutorily mandated terms of thirty years' imprisonment for the two § 924(c) offenses (see generally Presentence Investigation Report ("PSR")), but sentenced Petitioner to a below-guidelines term of 396 months' incarceration followed by three years' supervised release. (Doc. 25.)

         No direct appeal was taken and, as a result, the conviction became final for purposes of § 2255(f)(1) on May 10, 2005, at expiration of time to file an appeal. Ten years later, Petitioner filed the instant petition seeking correction of his sentence in light of Johnson. (Doc. 29.)

         II. ANALYSIS

         Petitioner's argument appears to be 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. 29 (arguing that he is entitled to vacatur of his § 924(c) convictions).) 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.[1] 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, his Hobbs Act robberies remain crimes of violence capable of supporting the convictions under § 924(c)(1)(A).

         Second, even 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 the offenses 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, 824 F.3d 1337, 1340 (11th Cir. 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, 650 Fed.App'x 466, 468 (9th Cir. 2016) (same); accord United States v. House, 825 F.3d 381, 386-87 (8th Cir. 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, 826 F.3d 293, 295-96 (6th Cir. 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 is inapposite and cannot operate as a basis for collateral relief.

         IV. CONCLUSION

         For the reasons discussed, Petitioner's § 2255 motion (Doc. 29) 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 Fed. R. App. P. 24. 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; Fed. R. App. P. 22(b).

         AN APPROPRIATE ...


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