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Davis v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

January 10, 2017

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

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Thomas A. Varlan CHIEF 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. 327]. He bases the 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 July 20, 2016 [Doc. 329]. Petitioner did not reply and the time for doing so has now passed. E.D. Tenn. L.R. 7.1, 7.2. For the reasons that follow, Petitioner's § 2255 motion [Doc. 327] will be DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner pled guilty to conspiring to distribute at least five kilograms of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A); and conspiring to commit money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) [Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) ¶ 3]. As part of his plea agreement, Petitioner stipulated that he was responsible for at least fifteen grams of cocaine [Doc. 106 ¶ 3(c)], which resulted in a total offense level of thirty three after a two-level enhancement for money laundering and three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility [PSR ¶¶ 39, 40, 46-48]. Petitioner's total offense level, seventeen criminal history points, and criminal history category of VI yielded a Guidelines range of 235 to 293 months' imprisonment, restricted an enhanced twenty-year statutory mandatory minimum [PSR ¶¶ 71, 94]. This Court granted the United States' motion for downward departure and sentenced Petitioner to 151 months' incarceration [Doc. 209]. No direct appeal was taken.

         Eighteen months later, Petitioner filed a motion for reduction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and Guidelines Amendment 782 [Doc. 315]. This Court reduced Petitioner's sentence to 188 months' incarceration [Doc. 323]. On June 20, 2016, Petitioner submitted the instant motion seeking vacatur of his sentence in light of the Johnson decision [Doc. 327].

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The relief authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 2255 “does not encompass all claimed errors in conviction and sentencing.” United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979). Rather, a 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

         Petitioner's argument that he no longer possesses predicate offenses sufficient for categorization as an armed career criminal under § 924(e), enhancement as a career-offender under Section 4B1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, or application of an enhanced base offense level under Section 2K2.1 of the same fails because the record conclusively demonstrates that he was never subjected to these provisions [PSR ¶¶ 39, 40, 46-48, 71, 94].[1]

         To the extent that Petitioner complains that he received criminal history points for prior convictions that “were not violent in their nature, ” the Johnson decision is inapposite. Each prior conviction that resulted in criminal history points did so because it constituted a prior “sentence of imprisonment exceeding one year and one month” under Section 4A1.1(a), prior “sentence of imprisonment of at least sixty days” under Section 4A1.1(b), or otherwise qualified under Section 4A1.1(c), not because it was a “crime of violence” under the ACCA residual clause.

         IV. CONCLUSION

         For the reasons discussed, Petitioner's § 2255 motion [Doc. 327] 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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