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Davis v. United States

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

December 21, 2016

LEWIS DAVIS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THOMAS W. PHILLIPS SENIOR 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. 31]. He bases his request for collateral 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 replied in turn [Doc. 34]. For the reasons below, Petitioner's § 2255 motion [Doc. 31] will be DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2009, Petitioner pled guilty to, and was subsequently convicted of, two Hobbs Act robberies, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951; and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) [Doc. 29]. On April 8, 2010, this Court sentenced Petitioner to an aggregate 156 month term of imprisonment-concurrent 72-month terms for the Hobbs Act robberies and a consecutive 84-month term for the § 924(c) offense [Id.]. No direct appeal was taken. More than six years later-on June 9, 2016-Petitioner filed the instant collateral challenge based on the Johnson decision [Doc. 31].[1]

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         To obtain relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, Petitioner must demonstrate “(1) an error of constitutional magnitude; (2) a sentence imposed outside the statutory limits; or (3) an error of fact or law . . . so fundamental as to render the entire proceeding invalid.” Short v. United States, 471 F.3d 686, 691 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting Mallett v. United States, 334 F.3d 491, 496-97 (6th Cir. 2003)). He “must clear a significantly higher hurdle than would exist on direct appeal” and establish a “fundamental defect in the proceedings which necessarily results in a complete miscarriage of justice or an egregious error violative of due process.” Fair v. United States, 157 F.3d 427, 430 (6th Cir. 1998).

         III. ANALYSIS

         To the extent Petitioner argues that the Johnson decision invalidated the residual clause in § 924(c)(3)(B)'s definition of crime of violence and that the absence of that provision requires vacatur of his conviction under § 924(c)(1)(A), the argument fails for two reasons.

         First, binding Sixth Circuit precedent holds that while Johnson invalidated the residual provision of the ACCA 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, his 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 that offense qualifies 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 is inapposite and cannot operate as a basis for collateral relief.

         To the extent that Petitioner challenges the validity of his plea agreement [Doc. 34 pp. 5- 11], bald and at times incoherent assertions of “fraud” are insufficient to overcome the presumed veracity of the contradictory statements that he made during the plea colloquy. Compare Baker v. United States, 781 F.2d 85, 90 (6th Cir. 1986) (finding the defendant was bound by statements he made in response to the court's plea colloquy), and Ramos v. Rogers, 170 F.3d 560, 566 (6th Cir. 1999) (finding the petitioner bound to plea colloquy responses despite some evidence that contradicted statements made therein), with Blackledge v. Allison, 431 U.S. 63, 74 (1977) (finding summary dismissal inappropriate where the petitioner provided specific detailed terms of the alleged broken promise; when, where, and by whom such promise was made; and the identity of a witness to that conversation).

         IV. CONCLUSION

         For the reasons discussed, Petitioner's § 2255 motion [Doc. 31] 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.

         AN APPROPRIATE ...


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