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Patterson v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

June 11, 2019

TANNER PATTERSON, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM

          ALETA A.TRAUGER United States District Judge.

         Before the court is Tanner Patterson' Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence in Accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. No. 1), seeking to vacate the sentence entered upon his 2013 criminal conviction in United States v. Lunsford et al., No. 3:12-cr-00094-2 (M.D. Tenn. May 1, 2013) (Revised Judgment, Doc. No. 59) (Haynes, J.).[1] Patterson argues, based on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), that his sentence was unlawfully enhanced by the application of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), because it required a finding that the defendant committed a “crime of violence” under the “residual clause” of § 924(c), which, he claims, is unconstitutionally vague. (Doc. No. 1, at 1.) For the reasons set forth below, Patterson's motion will be denied.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On May 16, 2013, Patterson and his co-defendant, Devonte Lunsford, were indicted on charges of (1) robbery of a federally insured bank “by force and violence, and by intimidation” and, in committing this offense, “assault[ing] the employees of [the bank] and [putting] said employees' lives in jeopardy by the use of a dangerous weapon, ” in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2 and 2113(a), (d) (Count One); and (2) knowingly using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, specifically armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A) and 2 (Count Three). (Crim. Doc. No. 18.)

         Patterson pleaded guilty to both charges, pursuant to a Plea Agreement, in January 2013. According to the Plea Agreement, Patterson understood that conviction on the charge of using a dangerous weapon during and in relation to a crime of violence carried a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of seven years. (Doc. No. 54, at 8.) The Plea Agreement included an agreement to a total sentence of 135 months (51 months on Count One and 84 months on Count Three) under Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. (Id. at 13.)

         Following the court's acceptance of his plea, Patterson was sentenced on April 19, 2013 to the agreed-upon sentence of 135 months. The Revised Judgment (correcting a typographical error in the original Judgment) was entered on May 1, 2013. (Doc. No. 59.) Patterson did not appeal his conviction or sentence.

         His § 2255 motion was filed, through counsel, on August 12, 2016. (Doc. No. 1.) The government responded (Doc. No. 4), and the movant, through counsel, filed a Reply (Doc. No. 5). Following the retirement of Judge Haynes, the case was reassigned to the undersigned.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The movant brings this action under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Section 2255 provides a statutory mechanism for challenging the imposition of a federal sentence:

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). In order to obtain relief under § 2255, a petitioner “‘must demonstrate the existence of an error of constitutional magnitude which had a substantial and injurious effect or influence on the guilty plea or the jury's verdict.'” Humphress v. United States, 398 F.3d 855, 858 (6th Cir. 2005) (quoting Griffin v. United States, 330 F.3d 733, 736 (6th Cir. 2003)). A motion under § 2255 is ordinarily subject to a one-year statute of limitations, running from the date the underlying conviction became final. 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

         III. ANALYSIS

         Federal law imposes a mandatory minimum sentence upon any person who, “during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime . . ., uses or carries a firearm, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses a firearm.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). Section 924(c)(3) defines “crime of violence” as an offense that is a felony and either (A) “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another”; or (B) “by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense.” Id. § 924(c)(3)(A), (B). Subsection (A) is known as the “elements” or “use-of-force” clause, and subsection (B) is referred to as the “residual” clause.

         Patterson argues that his conviction on Count Three of the Indictment and the increased sentence imposed under § 924(c) rely on a definition of “crime of violence” that is materially indistinguishable from the definition of “violent felony” in the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii), which the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutionally vague in Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2563. He contends ...


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