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Jackson v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

January 13, 2017

RESTEE TESHAUN JACKSON, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Thomas A. Varlan CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Petitioner's motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [Doc. 21].[1] 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 filed a response in opposition on June 21, 2016 [Doc. 23]; Petitioner replied in turn on July 6, 2016 [Doc. 24]. For the reasons that follow, Petitioner's § 2255 motion [Doc. 21] will be DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2012, Petitioner pled guilty to, and was subsequently convicted of, possessing a firearm as a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), which subjected him to a statutory penalty range of up to ten years' imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2) [Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) ¶¶ 2, 52]. Based on two prior convictions-one Illinois conviction for aggravated discharge of a firearm and another conviction for unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, the United States Probation Office subjected Petitioner to an enhanced based offense level under Section 2K2.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines [Id. ¶ 15].[2]After a two-level enhancement based on the number of firearms he possessed, and a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility, Petitioner's total offense level was twenty-three [Id. ¶¶ 16, 22-24]. Given his criminal history category of III, Petitioner was assigned an advisory Guideline range of 57 to 71 months' imprisonment [Id. ¶¶ 33, 53]. The Court sentenced Petitioner to 63 months' imprisonment on April 17, 2013 [Doc. 19]. No direct appeal was taken and Petitioner's conviction became final for purposes of § 2255(f)(1) on May 1, 2013, at expiration of time to file an appeal. See Sanchez-Castellano v. United States, 358 F.3d 424, 428 (6th Cir. 2004) (an unappealed judgment of conviction becomes final when the fourteen-day period for filing a direct appeal has elapsed).

         More than three years later-on June 2, 2016-Petitioner filed the instant petition challenging his sentence in light of the Johnson decision [Doc. 21].

         II. TIMELINESS OF PETITION

         Section 2255(f) places a one-year statute of limitations on all petitions for collateral relief under § 2255 running from either: (1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final; (2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action; (3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or (4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f). Supreme Court precedent makes clear that Johnson's invalidation of the ACCA residual clause amounted to a new rule made retroactively applicable on collateral review. See Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257, 1265 (U.S. 2016) (“Johnson is . . . a substantive decision and so has retroactive effect . . . in cases on collateral review.”); In re Windy Watkins, 810 F.3d 375, 380-81 (6th Cir. 2015) (finding Johnson constitutes a new substantive rule of constitutional law made retroactively applicable on collateral review and thus triggers § 2255(h)(2)'s requirement for certification of a second or successive petition). It is yet to be seen whether the same is true of the “new rule” that results from application of Johnson's reasoning in the Guideline context. See Pawlak v. United States, 822 F.3d 902, 911 (6th Cir. 2016) (holding that Johnson's vagueness analysis applies equally to the Guidelines and, as a result, that the parallel residual provision contained in Section 4B1.2 was void for vagueness); but see In re Embry, No. 16-5447, 2016 WL 4056056, at *1 (6th Cir. July 29, 2016) (recognizing that “it is not clear whether to treat Pawlak as a new rule that the Supreme Court has not yet made retroactive [to cases on collateral review] or as a rule dictated by Johnson that the Supreme Court has made retroactive”). The Court finds that it need not resolve the issue here, however, because the Johnson decision has no impact on Petitioner's case.

         III. 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).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Petitioner articulates as single ground for collateral relief: arguing that his prior Illinois conviction for aggravated discharge of a firearm no longer qualifies as a crime of violence after the Johnson decision and that, without that conviction, he no longer qualifies for the enhanced based offense level under Section 2K2.1(a)(2) [Doc. 21].

         The ACCA mandates a fifteen-year sentence for any felon who unlawfully possesses a firearm after having sustained three prior convictions “for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1) (emphasis added). The provision defines “serious drug offense” as any “offense under State law, involving manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute, a controlled substance . . . for which a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or more is prescribed by law.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(A)(ii). The Act goes on to define “violent felony” as “any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year” that (1) “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another” (the “use-of-physical-force clause”); (2) “is burglary, arson, or extortion, involves the use of explosives” (the “enumerated-offense clause”); or (3) “otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another” (the “residual clause”). 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B). Only the third portion of the above definition-the residual clause-was held to be unconstitutionally vague by the Supreme Court in Johnson. 135 S.Ct. at 2563. The Court went on to make clear, however, that its decision did not call into question the remainder of the ACCA's definition of violent felony-the use-of-physical-force and enumerated-offense clauses. Id.; United States v. Priddy, 808 F.3d 676, 682-83 (6th Cir. 2015). Nor does Johnson disrupt the use of prior drug offenses as predicates. See, e.g., United States v. Smith, No. 10-CR-20058, 2015 WL 5729114, at *9-13 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 20, 2015) (noting that Johnson does not affect a defendant's categorization as an armed career criminal based on his or her prior serious drug offenses).

         Section 4B1.1 classifies a defendant as a career offender if (1) he or she was at least eighteen years old at the time the defendant committed the instant offense; (2) the instant offense of conviction is a felony that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense; and (3) he or she has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense. U.S. Sentencing Manual § 4B1.1(a). Only Petitioner's satisfaction of the third prong-possession of two qualifying predicate convictions-is disputed [Doc. 21].

         “Controlled substance offense” is defined as any offense “punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, that prohibits the manufacture, import, export, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance . . . or the possession of controlled substance . . . with intent to manufacture, import, export, distribute, or dispense.” U.S. Sentencing Manual § 4B1.2(b). “Crime of violence” is defined in an almost identical manner as “violent felony” under the ACCA. See ...


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