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Beach v. United States

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

July 2, 2019

TIMOTHY GRADY BEACH, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM

          ALETA A.TRAUGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the court is Timothy Beach's 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 2008 criminal conviction in United States v. Beach, No. 3:07-cr-00029 (M.D. Tenn. April 9 2008) (Judgment, Doc. No. 48), [1] under Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which invalidated the so-called “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). (Doc. No. 1.) For the reasons set forth herein, the motion will be denied.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On January 31, 2007, a federal grand jury indicted Beach on one charge of being a previously convicted felon in possession of firearms, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924. (Crim. Doc. No. 1.) On January 22, 2008, Beach submitted a written Petition to Enter Plea of Guilty. (Crim. Doc. No. 39.) At the sentencing hearing conducted on April 7, 2008, Beach, through counsel, objected to sentencing under the ACCA on the basis that the prior convictions were not alleged in the Indictment, but he did not object to the characterization of any of the prior convictions as predicate felonies under the ACCA.

         The ACCA predicate felonies identified in the Presentence Report included Tennessee convictions for (1) second degree murder (conviction date, June 13, 1978); (2) aggravated sexual battery (conviction date, December 14, 1987); (3) assault with intent to commit murder (conviction date, December 14, 1987); (4) kidnapping (conviction date, August 14, 2003); and (5) robbery (conviction date, August 14, 2003). (Crim. Doc. No. 51 ¶ 21.)

         The court overruled the defendant's objections to sentencing under the ACCA and sentenced him on April 7, 2008 to 180 months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release. Judgment was entered on April 9, 2008. (Crim. Doc. No. 48.) Beach appealed the ACCA enhancement on the grounds that it had not been alleged in the Indictment, but the Sixth Circuit affirmed the judgment and sentence. United States v. Beach, 325 Fed.Appx. 402 (6th Cir. 2009).

         Beach filed his Motion to Vacate, through counsel, on June 3, 2016, citing Johnson and arguing that four of his five prior convictions would only qualify as predicate offenses under the now-invalidated residual clause of the ACCA. (Doc. No. 1.) The government responded (Doc. No. 9), arguing that Johnson did not affect Beach's sentencing under the ACCA. The movant, through counsel, filed a Reply. (Doc. No. 10.)

         Beach does not dispute that his robbery conviction continues to qualify as a crime of violence. The government does not address the kidnapping conviction but argues that the other three convictions-for second degree murder, aggravated sexual battery, and assault with intent to commit murder-all qualify as crimes of violence under the “use of force” clause of the ACCA. As set forth below, the court finds that, besides robbery, the convictions for second degree murder and assault with intent to commit murder categorically qualify as crimes of violence under the ACCA. Because the movant has the requisite three prior convictions without them, the court does not address the question of whether the kidnapping and aggravated sexual battery convictions would also qualify as violent felonies for purposes of the ACCA.

         II. LEGAL FRAMEWORK

         A. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

          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.

         B. The ACCA and Johnson v. United States

          Beach pleaded guilty to a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), which makes it unlawful for a previously convicted felon to possess any firearm or ammunition that has been transported in interstate commerce. The ACCA, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), mandates a minimum sentence of fifteen years for any person convicted under § 922(g)(1) who has “three previous convictions . . . for a violent felony or a serious drug offense.” The ...


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