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Martin v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

May 10, 2019

WILLIAM WAYNE MARTIN, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HARRY S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Federal inmate William Wayne Martin 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 motion, and Martin has filed a reply thereto. 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 Martin's § 2255 motion will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Martin pleaded guilty and was convicted of possessing a firearm and ammunition as a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) [Doc. 23 in No. 1:11-CR-69]. Based on his prior Tennessee convictions - including six convictions for burglary and one conviction for aggravated assault - Martin was deemed an armed career criminal [Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) ¶¶ 22, 53, 55-57 in No. 1:11-CR-69]. The Court sentenced him to the statutory mandatory minimum of 180 months' imprisonment [Doc. 23 in No. 1:11-CR-69]. Martin did not appeal.

         On or about June 20, 2016, Martin filed the instant § 2255 motion, alleging that his status as an armed career criminal is no longer valid after the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, which invalidated the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act “(ACCA”) [Doc. 1].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 Martin's allegations, and it complied with the order by filing a response in opposition to the motion on August 19, 2016 [Doc. 5]. Thereafter, Martin filed a reply to the United States' response [Doc. 6].

         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. DISCUSSION

         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.

         Where the statute of conviction is “divisible, ” in that it lists elements in the alternative to define several different variants of the crime, courts may employ the “modified categorical approach” in order to evaluate which of the alternative elements constituted the offense of conviction. See, e.g., Mathis, 136 S.Ct. at 2249. When considering whether the conviction qualifies as an ACCA predicate under this approach, courts may review a limited set of documents (referred to as Shepard documents) to determine the elements of the crime of conviction and compare that crime to the generic offense. See id.; see also Shepard v. United States, 125 S.Ct. 1254 (2005).

         A. Aggravated assault

         At the time Martin was convicted of aggravated assault, Tennessee law held that a person commits aggravated ...


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