United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Petitioner's supplemented motion to vacate,
set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 [Docs. 32, 44, 48]. The United States responded in
opposition to the original pro se petition on January 2, 2015
[Doc. 35], and requested that this Court stay resolution of
the supplemented petition pending Beckles v. United
States, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017), on August 11, 2016 [Doc.
51]. For the reasons below, Petitioner's supplemented
§ 2255 petition [Docs. 32, 44, 48] will be DENIED and
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. The United States' request for
a stay pending the Beckles decision [Doc. 51] will
be DENIED as moot.
January 5, 2013, law enforcement officers found 58.6 grams of
cocaine, digital scales, and other drug paraphernalia in
Petitioner's vehicle during a traffic stop [Doc. 20]. He
subsequently pled guilty to possessing cocaine with intent to
distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1),
(b)(1)(C) [Id.]. At the time, Petitioner had several
prior convictions, including thirteen Tennessee convictions
for aggravated burglary [Presentence Investigation Report
(PSR) ¶ ¶ 27-30, 35]. Based on three of those prior
aggravated burglary convictions, Petitioner was deemed a
career offender under Section 4B1.1 of the United States
Sentencing Guidelines with an advisory range of 151 to 188
months' imprisonment [Id. ¶¶ 21, 59].
This Court sentenced Petitioner to 167 months'
imprisonment on December 3, 2013 [Doc. 31]. He did not
appeal, but instead filed the instant timely pro se petition
for collateral relief on December 1, 2014 [Doc. 32]. On July
2, 2016, Petitioner supplemented that pro se filing with a
second ground for collateral relief [Doc. 44].
MOTION TO DEFER RULING ON PETITION
addition to the petition, this Court is in possession of the
United States' request to defer resolution of the §
2255 motion pending Beckles v. United States.
Because the Supreme Court issued a decision in the
Beckles case on March 6, 2017, the motion to defer
will be denied as moot.
PETITION FOR COLLATERAL RELIEF
Standard of Review
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).
articulates two theories in support of the requested
sentencing relief. In the first, he argues that counsel
rendered constitutionally deficient assistance when he failed
to object to Petitioner's career offender designation
based on the Supreme Court's decision in Descamps v.
United States, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013) [Doc.
In the second, Petitioner claims that Johnson v. United
States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which held that the
residual provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA),
18 U.S.C. § 924(e), was unconstitutionally vague,
removed his convictions for aggravated burglary from Section
4B1.2's definition of “crime of violence” and
that, without those convictions, he lacks sufficient
predicate offenses for enhancement [Docs. 44, 48].
Failure to Object to Career Offender Designation
petitioner alleging ineffective assistance of counsel must
satisfy the two-part test set forth in Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1987). See also, Huff
v. United States, 734 F.3d 600, 606 (6th Cir. 2013).
First, the petitioner must establish, by identifying specific
acts or omissions, that counsel's performance was
deficient and that counsel did not provide “reasonably
effective assistance, ” Id., as measured by
“prevailing professional norms, ”
Rompilla v. Beard, 545 U.S. 374, 380
(2005). Counsel is presumed to have provided effective
assistance, and the petitioner bears the burden of showing
otherwise. Mason v. Mitchell, 320 F.3d 604, 616-17
(6th Cir. 2003); see also Strickland, 466 U.S. at
689 (a reviewing court “must indulge a strong
presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide
range of reasonable professional assistance; that is, the
defendant must overcome the presumption that . . . the
challenged action might be considered sound . . .
strategy” (internal citation omitted)).
the petitioner must demonstrate “a reasonable
probability that, but for [counsel's acts or omissions],
the result of the proceedings would have been
different.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694.
“An error by counsel, even if professionally
unreasonable, does not warrant setting aside the judgment of
a criminal proceeding if the error had no effect on the
judgment.” Id. at 691; see also Smith v.
Robbins, 528 U.S. 259, 285-86 (2000). If a petitioner
fails to prove that he sustained prejudice, the Court need
not decide whether counsel's performance was deficient.
See United States v. Hynes, 467 F.3d 951, 970 (6th
Cir. 2006) (holding that alleged ...