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Young v. United States

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

January 7, 2020





         Before the Court is Petitioner Joshua Michael Young's pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. 1, in No. 1:19-cv-343; Doc. 26, in No. 1:11-cr-66). Respondent, United States of America, opposes Petitioner's motion. (Doc. 4, in No. 1:19-cv-343.) For the following reasons, the Court will DENY Petitioner's § 2255 motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On November 8, 2011, Petitioner pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1); robbery by means of actual and threatened force, in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951; and using, carrying, and/or brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence-the Hobbs Act robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(ii). (Docs. 14, 16, in No. 1:11-cr-66.) On February 16, 2012, United States District Judge Curtis L. Collier sentenced Petitioner to a total of 136 months' imprisonment and five years of supervised release. (Docs. 21, 22, in No. 1:11-cr-66.) Petitioner did not appeal. (Doc. 26, at 2, in No. 1:11-cr-66.)

         On September 13, 2018, Petitioner mistakenly filed, with the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, a motion for leave to file a second or successive motion under § 2255. (See Doc. 24, in No. 1:11-cr-66.) On January 14, 2019, the Sixth Circuit denied Petitioner's motion as unnecessary, stating, “Young may file his § 2255 motion in the district court without our authorization.” (Doc. 25, at 3, in No. 1:11-cr-66.) On December 3, 2019, Petitioner filed the instant § 2255 motion, asserting that his conviction under § 924(c) is unconstitutional in light of Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S.Ct. 1204 (2018). (See Doc. 1, at 4, in No. 1:19-cv-343.) This motion is now ripe for the Court's review.


         To obtain relief under § 2255, a petitioner must demonstrate: “(1) an error of constitutional magnitude; (2) a sentence imposed outside the statutory limits; or (3) an error of fact or law . . . so fundamental as to render the entire proceeding invalid.” Short v. United States, 471 F.3d 686, 691 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting Mallett v. United States, 334 F.3d 491, 496-97 (6th Cir. 2003)). He “must clear a significantly higher hurdle than would exist on direct appeal” and establish a “fundamental defect in the proceedings which necessarily results in a complete miscarriage of justice or an egregious error violative of due process.” Fair v. United States, 157 F.3d 427, 430 (6th Cir. 1998).

         Section 2255(f) places a one-year period of limitation on all petitions for collateral relief under § 2255, which runs from the latest of: (1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final; (2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action; (3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or (4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f).

         In ruling on a motion made pursuant to § 2255, the Court must also determine whether an evidentiary hearing is necessary. “An evidentiary hearing is required unless the record conclusively shows that the petitioner is entitled to no relief.” Martin v. United States, 889 F.3d 827, 832 (6th Cir. 2018) (quoting Campbell v. United States, 686 F.3d 353, 357 (6th Cir. 2012)); see also 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). “The burden for establishing entitlement to an evidentiary hearing is relatively light, and where there is a factual dispute, the habeas court must hold an evidentiary hearing to determine the truth of the petitioner's claims.” Martin, 889 F.3d at 832 (quoting Turner v. United States, 183 F.3d 474, 477 (6th Cir. 1999)) (internal quotation marks omitted). While a petitioner's “mere assertion of innocence” does not entitle him to an evidentiary hearing, the district court cannot forego an evidentiary hearing unless “the petitioner's allegations cannot be accepted as true because they are contradicted by the record, inherently incredible, or conclusions rather than statements of fact.” Id. When petitioner's factual narrative of the events is not contradicted by the record and not inherently incredible and the government offers nothing more than contrary representations, the petitioner is entitled to an evidentiary hearing. Id.

         III. ANALYSIS

         As a threshold matter, Petitioner's motion is timely under § 2255(f)(3). Petitioner's motion purports to rely exclusively on Dimaya, which the United States Supreme Court decided on April 17, 2018. If Petitioner actually relief solely upon Dimaya, his motion would be untimely because he filed the instant petition on December 3, 2019 (see Doc. 1, in No. 1:19-CV-343), several months after the one-year limitation period had lapsed. (Doc. 1.) However, as the Government notes (Doc. 4, at 2, in No. 1:19-cv-343), Petitioner's argument more appropriately relies upon United States v. Davis, 139 S.Ct. 2319 (2019), which the Supreme Court decided on June 24, 2019. The Court construes Petitioner's motion liberally, in light of his pro se status, and deems Petitioner's motion timely, as less than one year passed between the Supreme Court's decision in Davis and the filing of this petition. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(3).

         In Davis, the Supreme Court invalidated 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3)(B), known as the “residual clause” of this subsection, as unconstitutionally vague. 139 S.Ct. at 2324, 2336. But, as explained below, since Petitioner was convicted under § 924(c)(3)(A), Davis has no effect on his conviction.

         Section 924(c) makes it a crime to use, carry, brandish, or discharge a firearm “during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime . . . .” 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). A ...

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