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Edwards v. United States

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

May 11, 2017

DANIEL BLAKE EDWARDS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          J. RONNIE GREER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the United States's 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. 40]. Petitioner submitted the petition on May 23, 2016 [Docs. 27, 31, 33, 41].[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 (suggesting that his sentence is no longer valid because the residual clause in Section 4B1.2 is equally vague)].[2]

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 4, 2012, law enforcement officers found nineteen firearms in Petitioner's residence while investigating Petitioner for burglary and selling firearms [Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) ¶¶ 5-10]. He later pled guilty to possessing firearms 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) [Id. ¶ 48; Docs. 12, 14].

         Based on a prior Tennessee conviction for burglary, the United States Probation Office assigned Petitioner a base offense level of twenty pursuant to Section 2K2.1(a)(2) [PSR ¶¶ 15, 30]. A four-level enhancement for possessing at least eight firearms [Id. ¶ 16], two-level enhancement for possessing stolen firearms [Id. ¶ 17], four-level enhancement for possessing the firearms in connection with the felony offense of aggravated burglary [Id. ¶ 18], and three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility [Id. ¶¶ 24-25], yielded a total offense level of 27 [Id. ¶ 26]. That offense level resulted in an advisory Guideline range of 87 to 108 months' imprisonment when combined with Petitioner's criminal history category of III [Id. ¶ 49]. This Court imposed an 87-month sentence on April 24, 2013 [Doc. 21]. Petitioner did not file a direct appeal.

         The Supreme Court decided Johnson on June 26, 2015. Less than one year later, Petitioner filed the instant challenge based on that decision [Doc. 27]. On October 7, 2016, Petitioner filed a supplement challenging this Court's subject matter jurisdiction [Doc. 27 (requesting leave to amend); Doc. 33 (claiming that this Court lacked jurisdiction over his criminal case because, “though the firearms may have been manufactured in other states[, ] Petitioner has never traveled in interstate commerce to have transported any of those firearms into the state of Tennessee”)].

         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). Two weeks later, this Court entered an Order (1) explaining that Beckles necessarily meant that “Johnson . . . does not undermine sentences based on Guideline enhancements;” (2) instructing the parties to “file any motion that they want[ed] the Court to consider in conjunction with, or prior to, ruling on [the instant] petition[] on or before April 1, 2017;” and (3) requiring that responsive pleadings be filed on or before April 15, 2017 [Doc. 38].

         On March 31, 2017, the United States filed the instant motion to dismiss Petitioner's Johnson-based challenge to his base offense level in light of Beckles [Doc. 40], and FDSET filed a motion to withdraw as counsel [Doc. 39 (explaining that counsel cannot further pursue a motion to vacate under Johnson according to the limited appointment authorization provided by the Standing Order)]. In response, Petitioner submitted: (1) a supplement challenging his Guideline enhancement based on Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016) [Doc. 41]; and (2) arguing that Beckles does not foreclose relief based on the absence of jurisdiction or Mathis [Doc. 42].[3]

         II. REQUEST TO WITHDRAW

         Because Beckles forecloses any possibility of Johnson-based relief, the request to withdraw [Doc. 39] will be GRANTED and counsel will be relieved of her duties under the Standing Order.

         III. TIMELINESS OF SUPPLEMENTED 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). This same provision governs the timeliness of later-filed amendments. Cameron v. United States, No. 1:05-cv-264, 2012 WL 1150490, at *3-6 (E.D. Tenn. April 5, 2012) (citing Olsen v. United States, 27 F. App'x 566 (6th Cir. Dec. 14, 2001)). Petitioner has failed to demonstrate that subsections (f)(2) or (f)(4) apply to his case. i.e., he has not established that any illegal action by the government prevented him from making the timely petition or the existence of facts affecting his case that could not have previously been discovered through the exercise of due diligence. As such, timeliness of the supplemented petition depends on whether submission of the grounds for relief therein complied with subsections (f)(1) and (f)(3).

         A. Timeliness of Supplemented Petition Under Subsections (f)(1) and (f)(3)

         For purposes of subsection (f)(1)-where the statutory period expires one year from the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final-a “conviction becomes final at the conclusion of direct review.” Brown v. United States, 20 F. App'x 373, 374 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting Johnson v. United States, 246 F.3d 655, 657 (6th Cir. 2001)). Using the same reasoning, the Sixth Circuit has made clear that “when a federal criminal defendant does not appeal to the court of appeals, [direct review concludes] upon expiration of the period in which the defendant could have appealed to [such court], even when no notice of appeal was filed.” Johnson v. United States, 457 F. App'x 462, 465 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Sanchez-Castellano v. United States, 358 F.3d 424, 427 (6th Cir. 2004)). Petitioner's conviction became final on May 3, 2013, fourteen days after this Court entered judgment. See Fed. R. App. P. 4(b)(1)(A)(i) (“In a criminal case, a defendant's notice of appeal must be filed in the district court within [fourteen] days after . . . the entry of . . . judgment.”). The window for requesting relief under that ...


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