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Cartwright v. United States

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

June 12, 2019




         Federal inmate Raymond Cartwright has filed a motion and supplemental motions to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Respondent has filed a response in opposition to the motions, and Cartwright has replied. 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] in this matter, and the motion will be denied.


         A jury convicted Cartwright of possessing a firearm and ammunition as a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). See United States v. Cartwright, 221 Fed.Appx. 438, 439-40 (6th Cir. 2007). Based on his prior Tennessee convictions for first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, third-degree burglary, felonious escape, aggravated assault, and incest, he was deemed an armed career criminal under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), and was sentenced to 288 months' imprisonment followed by five years of supervised release [Doc. 79 in No. 1:04-CR-33; Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) at ¶¶ 33, 38, 40, 42-43, 44-45, and 53]. See also Cartwright, 221 Fed.Appx. at 440-41.

         The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed Cartwright's conviction and sentence on direct appeal. Id. at 442. On December 10, 2007, the Supreme Court denied Cartwright's request for a writ of certiorari. Cartwright v. United States, 552 U.S. 1083 (2007).

         In April 2008, Cartwright filed a § 2255 motion, which was denied as without merit in December of 2011 [See Doc. 172 in No. 1:04-CR-33]. In October of 2016, the Sixth Circuit authorized Cartwright to file a successive § 2255 motion challenging his armed-career criminal classification in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which invalidated the residual clause of the ACCA as unconstitutionally vague [Docs. 189 and 193]. Multiple motions to amend and/or supplement the § 2255 motion have been filed and remain pending, but the United States has responded to the initial motion and first two supplements [See Docs. 3, 4, 6, and 13]. Cartwright has filed replies to the Government's responses [See Docs. 5 and 14], and Cartwright has submitted a subsequent motion to amend and/or revise his petition, along with an order to show cause why he should not immediately be released [Docs. 15 and 17].[2]

         During the course of this litigation, this action was stayed pending the outcome of the Sixth Circuit's decision in Cradler v. United States, 891 F.3d 659 (6th Cir. 2018) [Doc. 202 and 204 in No. 1:04-CR-33]. Cradler having been decided, the Court finds the stay should be vacated and that these matters reviewed.


         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).


         The ACCA requires a fifteen-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 a “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 a “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 ...

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