Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Altiery v. United States

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

May 11, 2017

CARLOS ALTIERY, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          J. RONNIE GREER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Petitioner's supplemented motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [Docs. 95, 98, 103, 109, 110].[1] He bases his request for relief at least in part on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which held that the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), was unconstitutionally vague [Id.]. Recently, the United States filed a motion to deny and dismiss the petition based on an intervening decision of the Supreme Court [Doc. 108]. For the reasons below, the United States's motion to deny and dismiss will be GRANTED, and Petitioner's supplemented § 2255 motion will be DENIED and DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2014, Petitioner was convicted of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone and conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, both in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C) [Docs. 46, 51, 76]. Based on prior convictions for Massachusetts armed robbery while masked and racketeering enterprise, the United States Probation Office deemed Petitioner to be a career offender under Section 4B1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines [Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) ¶¶ 29, 36, 37]. In accordance with that designation, this Court sentenced Petitioner to 144 months' imprisonment on March 6, 2014 [Doc. 76]. Petitioner appealed, but the Sixth Circuit affirmed his conviction and sentence on June 8, 2016 [Doc. 94]. Petitioner did not file a request for a writ of certiorari.

         The Supreme Court decided Johnson on June 26, 2015. On June 30, 2016, Petitioner filed the instant petition for collateral relief based on that decision [Doc. 95]. FDSET filed a supplement in support of that claim two months later [Doc. 98].

         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. 102].

         On March 23, 2017, Petitioner filed a pro se motion “to clarify and supplement” his § 2255 motion, explaining that he had not been able to reach counsel but wanted to continue in his request for collateral relief based on Johnson and Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016) [Id. (maintaining that his prior Massachusetts conviction for armed robbery does not qualify as a crime of violence after the “substantive change in constitutional law regarding the void-for-vagueness statutes fixing sentences”)].[2] On March 31, 2017, the United States filed a motion to dismiss Petitioner's Johnson-based challenge to his career offender designation in light of Beckles [Doc. 108]. Within one week, Petitioner filed an “amended § 2255 motion” [Doc. 109] and supplement with “additional citations of authority” [Doc. 110]. The combined effect of Petitioner's two most-recent submissions is as follows: (1) the Beckles holding that the Guidelines are not amenable to vagueness challenges does not foreclose Johnson-based collateral relief because this Court remains bound by the Sixth Circuit's prior holding to the contrary in Pawlak v. United States, 822 F.3d 902 (6th Cir. 2016); and (2) counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to challenge this Court's categorization of the Massachusetts armed robbery conviction at sentencing [Docs. 109, 110].

         II. MOTION TO DISMISS WITH PREJUDICE

         As supplemented, the petition contains two discernable grounds for collateral relief. In the first, Petitioner argues that Johnson invalidated the identically worded residual clause in Section 4B1.2, his prior Massachusetts conviction for armed robbery only qualified as a crime of violence under that provision, and he lacks sufficient predicates for career offender designation.[3] In the second, he argues that counsel was ineffective for failing to object to or otherwise challenge the categorization of Massachusetts armed robbery as a crime of violence at the sentencing hearing.

         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).

         A. Propriety of Career Offender Designation After Johnson

         To the extent that Petitioner argues that this Court remains bound by Pawlak despite the Supreme Court's contrary holding in Beckles, he is mistaken. This Court has an obligation to follow the Supreme Court where an intervening decision of that Court directly reverses an opinion of the Court of Appeals or implicitly reverses the same through a case with indistinguishable facts. In re Higgins, 159 B.R. 212, 215 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 13, 1993). Beckles overruled Pawlak because the former reached the opposite conclusions regarding Section 4B1.2's susceptibility to void for vagueness analysis under materially indistinguishable circumstances. See Salmi v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 774 F.2d 685, 689 (6th Cir.1985) (“A panel of this Court cannot overrule the decision of another panel. The prior decision remains controlling authority unless an inconsistent decision of the United States Supreme Court requires modification of the decision or this Court sitting en banc overrules the prior decision.”). As a result, Beckles binds this Court.

         To the extent that Petitioner argues that Johnson invalidated the Guidelines residual clause and that his prior conviction for Massachusetts armed robbery cannot be categorized as a crime of violence without it, that argument fails because the Guidelines are “not amenable to vagueness challenges.” Beckles, 137 S.Ct. at 894. Because Johnson did not affect his status as a career offender, that decision cannot serve as a basis for granting relief. Further, divisibility of the Massachusetts armed robbery statute under Mathis is irrelevant since viability of the residual provision means that his ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.