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.

Cradler v. United States

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

June 5, 2018

Larry Cradler, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
United States of America, Respondent-Appellee.

          Argued: March 15, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee at Memphis. Nos. 2:07-cr-20130-1; 2:14-cv-02339-Jon Phipps McCalla, District Judge.

          ARGUED: Needum L. Germany, FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Memphis, Tennessee, for Appellant.

          Kevin G. Ritz, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Memphis, Tennessee, for Appellee.

          ON BRIEF: Needum L. Germany, FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Memphis, Tennessee, for Appellant.

          Kevin G. Ritz, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE,

          Memphis, Tennessee, for Appellee.

          Before: KEITH, KETHLEDGE, and THAPAR, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          DAMON J. KEITH, Circuit Judge.

         Petitioner-Appellant Larry Cradler ("Cradler") was sentenced as an armed career criminal pursuant to the Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA"). Cradler collaterally attacked his sentence through a motion filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, asking the district court to vacate his sentence and re-sentence him. The district court denied Cradler's motion, and this appeal followed. For the reasons set forth below, the district court's decision is REVERSED and the case is REMANDED.

         I. FACTS

         In 2008, a jury convicted Cradler of violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) ("§ 922(g)(1)"), which prohibits convicted felons from possessing a firearm. This offense typically carries a maximum imprisonment penalty of 10 years. See 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2). However, under the ACCA, a defendant who violates § 922(g)(1) after being convicted of at least three violent felonies or serious drug offenses becomes subject to a mandatory minimum imprisonment penalty of 15 years. See 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). At sentencing, the district court found that Cradler had been convicted of four violent felonies prior to violating § 922(g)(1) and, therefore, sentenced him under the ACCA, to an imprisonment term of 222 months (18.5 years). This court affirmed Cradler's judgment on September 9, 2011. Cradler did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court.

         On May 8, 2014, Cradler, through counsel, filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate his sentence ("§ 2255 motion"). Cradler argued that, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Descamps v. United States, 570 U.S. 254 (2013), two of his prior convictions-(1) sexual battery and (2) third-degree burglary-no longer qualified as violent felonies for ACCA purposes. Therefore, Cradler asserted that his record no longer contained the three violent felonies necessary to subject him to the ACCA's mandatory minimum imprisonment penalty. Based on this, Cradler concluded that his sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, entitling him to a vacating of his sentence and a remand for appropriate re-sentencing, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

         Over the following 31 months, Cradler's § 2255 motion was litigated at length in the district court. The protracted nature of the litigation was due, in part, to the publishing of two Supreme Court cases during that time-Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015) and Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016)-which Cradler used to update, revise, and at times replace, his original arguments. During this time, the United States conceded that it lacked the requisite information to support the argument that Cradler's sexual battery conviction qualifies as a violent felony for ACCA purposes. Since that time, this dispute has involved only Cradler's third-degree burglary conviction.

         On December 29, 2016, the district court denied Cradler's § 2255 motion on the merits, concluding that his third-degree burglary conviction qualifies as a violent felony. The district court also denied Cradler's motion to proceed in forma pauperis, and declined to issue a certificate of appealability. On July 11, 2017, this court granted Cradler's motions for a certificate of appealability and to proceed in forma pauperis. This appeal followed.

         On appeal, Cradler argues that the district court erred in denying his § 2255 motion because it misapplied the proper procedure for determining if a prior conviction qualifies as a violent felony. The United States argues that Cradler's § 2255 motion was properly denied, for three reasons: (1) the motion is untimely; (2) Cradler procedurally defaulted his claim; and (3) the district court properly determined that Cradler's third-degree burglary offense qualifies as a violent felony.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "In reviewing a district court's denial of a motion under Section 2255, we apply a clearly erroneous standard to its factual findings and review its conclusions of law de novo." Braden v. United States, 817 F.3d 926, 929 (6th Cir. 2016) (quoting Hyatt v. United States, 207 F.3d 831, 832 (6th Cir. 2000)). "This court reviews de novo a district court's determination regarding whether a prior conviction constitutes a 'violent felony' under the ACCA." Id. at 930 (quoting United States v. Kemmerling, 612 Fed.Appx. 373, 375 (6th Cir. 2015)).

         III. SECTION 2255 MOTIONS, TIMELINESS, AND DEFAULT

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a federal prisoner may move the court to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence if the sentence "was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or . . . the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law . . . ." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). "If the court finds that . . . the sentence imposed was not authorized by law . . . the court shall vacate and set the judgment aside and shall discharge the prisoner or resentence him or grant a new trial or correct the sentence as may appear appropriate." Id. at § 2255(b).

         A. One-Year Limitations Period

         The United States' first argument against Cradler's § 2255 motion is that the motion is untimely. Motions under § 2255 are subject to a one-year period of limitation. Normally, this period runs from "the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1). When, as here, the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a criminal judgment, but the defendant did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court, his judgment is deemed to be final when the time for filing such a petition expired (i.e., 90 days after the U.S. Court of Appeals entered judgment). Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 525, 527 (2003). Because we affirmed Cradler's judgment of ...


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.