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Cal v. United States

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

April 26, 2017

MICHAEL CAL, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          TRAVIS R. MCDONOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the United States' motion to deny and dismiss Petitioner's supplemented motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [Doc. 47]. Petitioner filed the petition on June 20, 2016 [Docs. 42, 43, 44].[1] In it, he challenges his enhancement under Section 2K2.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines based on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which held that the residual provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), was unconstitutionally vague [Id. (suggesting that his sentence is no longer valid because the Guidelines residual provision is equally vague)].[2]

         On March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court issued Beckles v. United States, which held that the United States Sentencing Guidelines are “not amenable to vagueness challenges.” 137 S.Ct. 886, 894 (2017). Shortly thereafter-on March 30, 2017, the United States filed the instant motion to dismiss Petitioner's Johnson-based challenge in light of Beckles [Doc. 47]. Petitioner has not filed a response, and the time for doing so has now passed. E.D. Tenn. L.R. 7.1, 7.2. This Court interprets the absence of a response as a waiver of opposition. See, e.g., Notredan, LLC v. Old Republic Exch. Facilitator Co., 531 F. App'x 567, 569 (6th Cir. 2013) (explaining that failure to respond or oppose a motion to dismiss operates as both a waiver of opposition to, and an independent basis for granting, the unopposed motion); see also E.D. Tenn. L.R. 7.2 (“Failure to respond to a motion may be deemed a waiver of any opposition to the relief sought”).

         In addition to the motion to dismiss, this Court is in possession of the United States' motion to hold the petition in abeyance pending Beckles. Because the Supreme Court issued that decision on March 6, 2017, the United States' motion [Doc. 46] is moot and will be DENIED accordingly.

         Because Beckles forecloses Johnson-based collateral relief from Petitioner's Guideline enhancement and because this Court interprets Petitioner's failure to respond to the United States' request for dismissal as a waiver of opposition, the motion to deny and dismiss [Doc. 47] will be GRANTED and the supplemented petition [Docs. 42, 43, 44] will be DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. This 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 Fed. R. App. P. 24. 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; Fed. R. App. P. 22(b).

         ORDER ACCORDINGLY.

---------

Notes:

[1] On February 11, 2016, this Court appointed Federal Defenders Services of Eastern Tennessee (FDSET) for the limited purpose of reviewing Petitioner's case to determine whether he was entitled to collateral relief based on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). E.D. Tenn. S.O. 16-02 (Feb. 11, 2016). Petitioner field a pro se challenge based on Johnson [Doc. 42] and, consistent with the Standing Order, FDSET filed a supplement in support of that claim [Doc. 43]. Three days later, Petitioner field a second copy of the original petition [Doc. 44].

[2] 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). The statute defines “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). It was this third clause-the residual clause-that the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional in Johnson. 135 S.Ct. at 2563.

The Guidelines set a general base offense level of fourteen for violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). U.S. Sentencing Manual § 2K2.1(a)(6). For offenders with one prior conviction for either a “crime of violence” or “controlled substance offense, ” the base offense level increases to twenty. U.S. Sentencing Manual § 2K2.1(a)(4). Offenders with two such convictions face a base offense level of twenty-four. U.S. Sentencing Manual § 2K2.1(a)(2). “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 ...


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