United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville
DANNY L. HADAWAY, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
RONNIE GREER 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. 29, 33, 43]. He bases the request 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 June 3, 2016 [Doc. 45].
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, the supplemented § 2255 petition will be DENIED
and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
2006, Petitioner pled guilty, pursuant to a Rule 11(c)(1)(C)
plea agreement, to possessing a firearm as a felon, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) [Doc. 14]. Petitioner
had several prior Tennessee convictions at the time of his
offense, including: a 1979 conviction for voluntary
manslaughter [Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) ¶
25], a 1987 conviction for aggravated assault [Id.
¶ 30]; and a 1993 conviction for aggravated assault
[Id. ¶ 33]. Petitioner agreed in his plea
agreement that these three offenses made him an armed career
criminal subject to the ACCA's fifteen-year term of
imprisonment [Doc. 14]. In accordance with that designation
and the terms of Petitioner's Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea, this
Court sentenced Petitioner to 180 months' imprisonment on
April 26, 2006 [Doc. 27]. Petitioner did not appeal his
conviction or sentence.
years later, Petitioner filed an original § 2255 motion
challenging his armed career criminal designation based on
Descamps v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2276, 2285
(2013) [Doc. 29]. He submitted an amended version of the same
shortly thereafter [Doc. 33]. The Supreme Court decided
Johnson on June 26, 2015 and, on May 6, 2016,
Petitioner submitted a second amended motion challenging his
armed career criminal designation based on that decision
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).
supplemented petition contains a single ground, arguing that
the 1979 voluntary manslaughter and 1987 aggravated assault
convictions no longer qualify as “violent
felonies” under § 924(e) after Descamps
and Johnson and that, without those convictions,
Petitioner does not qualify for ACCA enhancement [Docs. 29,
33, 43 (challenging ACCA designation)].
Propriety of Armed Career Criminal Designation After 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 the
Johnson decision. 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 serious drug
offenses as an independent form of ACCA predicate conviction.
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).
does not dispute that his 1993 conviction for aggravated
assault remains a predicate offense under the ACCA. As such,
the sole dispute between the parties is whether or not his
1979 voluntary manslaughter and 1987 aggravated assault
convictions remain “violent felonies” under one
of the unaffected provisions of § 924(e)(2)(B). See,
e.g., United States v. Ozier, 796 F.3d 597, 604
(6th Cir. 2015) (denying petition where convictions qualified
as a predicates independent of the residual clause),
overturned on other grounds by Mathis v. United
States, 136 S.Ct. 2246, 2251 n.1 (2016). For the reasons
that follow, the Court finds that they do.
Categorical and Modified Categorical Approaches
determine whether Petitioner's convictions for voluntary
manslaughter and aggravated assault remain violent felonies
after Descamps and Johnson, the Court needs
to identify the precise crimes of conviction.
Descamps, 133 S.Ct. at 2285. To do so, it must
employ a “categorical approach, ” under which it
looks “only to the statutory definitions- elements-of a
defendant's prior offense, and not to the particular
facts underlying [each individual] conviction.”
Id. at 2283 (internal quotations omitted). If the
statute categorically aligns with the generic version of the
offense, the inquiry is over. If, however, the statute
criminalizes conduct in excess of that covered by the
enumerated-offense clause, it becomes necessary to determine
whether the statute is divisible or indivisible. A divisible
statute is ...