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Miles v. United States

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

May 9, 2019

TRAVIS MILES, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PAMELA L. REEVES CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Federal inmate Travis Miles has filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Respondent has filed a response in opposition to the petition. Having considered the pleadings and the record, along with the relevant law, the Court finds that it is unnecessary to hold an evidentiary hearing[1], and Miles' § 2255 motion will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         In 2014, Miles pleaded guilty and was convicted of possessing a firearm as a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) [See Doc. 15 in No. 3:14-CR-100]. Based on his prior convictions, which included three burglaries and one aggravated burglary, Miles was deemed an armed career criminal [Doc. 16 ¶¶ 20, 28, 34, 37, 39, 59 in No. 3:14-CR-100]. At sentencing, this Court imposed the statutorily-mandated minimum sentence of 180 months' imprisonment [Doc. 22 in No. 3:14-CR-100]. Miles did not appeal. On June 14, 2016, with the assistance of counsel, Miles filed the instant § 2255 motion, alleging that his status as an armed career criminal is no longer valid after the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, which invalidated the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act “(ACCA”) [Doc. 1]. Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). The United States was ordered to respond to Miles' allegations, and it complied with the order by filing a response in opposition to the motion on July 18, 2016 [Doc. 3].

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         After a defendant has been convicted and exhausted his appeal rights, a court may presume that “he stands fairly and finally convicted.” United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 164 (1982). A court may grant relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, but the statute “does not encompass all claimed errors in conviction and sentencing.” United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979). Rather, collateral attack limits a movant's allegations to those of constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude, or those containing factual or legal errors “so fundamental as to render the entire proceeding invalid.” Short v. United States, 471 F.3d 686, 691 (6th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

         III. ARMED CAREER CRIMINAL ACT STANDARDS

         The ACCA requires a 15-year minimum sentence for a felon who unlawfully possesses a firearm after having sustained three prior convictions “for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). The statute defines a “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-force clause”); (2) “is burglary, arson, or extortion, involves 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).

         In Johnson v. United States, the Supreme Court struck down the residual clause of the ACCA as unconstitutionally vague and violative of due process. Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2563. However, Johnson did not invalidate “the remainder of the Act's definition of a violent felony.” Id. Therefore, for a § 2255 petitioner to obtain relief under Johnson, he must show that his ACCA-enhanced sentence was necessarily based on a predicate violent felony that only qualified as such under the residual clause. See, e.g., Potter v. United States, 887 F.3d 785, 788 (6th Cir. 6018). Accordingly, post-Johnson, a defendant can properly receive an ACCA-enhanced sentence based either on the statute's use-of-force or enumerated-offense clauses. United States v. Priddy, 808 F.3d 676, 683 (6th Cir. 2015); see also United States v. Taylor, 800 F.3d 701, 719 (6th Cir. 2015) (affirming ACCA sentence where prior convictions qualified under use-of-force and enumerated-offense clauses).

         In evaluating whether a conviction qualifies as a predicate offense under the ACCA's enumerated-offense clause, courts apply the “categorical approach, ” which requires the reviewing court to compare the elements of the statute of conviction with the “generic elements” of the offense. Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243, 2248 (2016); Descamps v. United States, 570 U.S. 254, 257 (2013). If the statute of conviction is broader than that criminalizing the generic offense, then it cannot qualify as a violent felony, regardless of the facts comprising the offense. See, e.g., Mathis, 136 S.Ct. at 2248-49.

         IV. ANALYSIS

         Miles claims that his aggravated burglary and burglary convictions are no longer ACCA predicates after Johnson, as they only qualify as “violent felonies” under the now-void residual clause [See Doc. 1 p.2]. As noted above, a burglary offense constitutes a predicate offense for purposes of the enumerated-offense clause of the ACCA when the offense's statutory definition substantially corresponds to the “generic” definition of burglary, which the Supreme Court has defined as “any crime, regardless of its exact definition or label, having the basic elements of unlawful or unprivileged entry into, or remaining in, a building or structure, with intent to commit a crime.” Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575, 599 (1990).

         The Tennessee burglary statute under which Miles was convicted provides that an individual commits burglary when, “without the effective consent of the property owner, ” he:

(1) Enters a building other than a habitation (or any portion thereof) not open to the public, with intent to commit a ...

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