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Norman v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 23, 2017

CHARLES NORMAN, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner's motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence [Doc. #1] pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, wherein he asserts Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015) is applicable. The United States of America has responded to the motion. For the reasons set forth below the Motion will be denied.

         Facts and Background

         On October 15, 2008, Petitioner entered a plea of guilty to the offense of knowingly and intentionally possessing with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing cocaine base (crack), a Schedule II controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). By virtue of the plea agreement he waived “all rights to contest the conviction or sentence in any post-conviction proceeding, including one pursuant to Title 28, United States Code, Section 2255, except for claims of prosecutorial misconduct or ineffective assistance of counsel.” [Doc.25]

         A Presentence Investigation Report was prepared which found Petitioner to have at least two prior felony convictions for either a crime of violence or a controlled substance violation, and thus was classified as a Career Offender pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(a), and therefore his base offense level was 37. Granting a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility resulted in a Total Offense Level of 34.

         The Presentence Investigation Report concluded that Petitioner had 17 criminal history points. This, and the fact that he was a Career Offender, resulted in a Criminal History Category VI. This resulted in a guideline imprisonment range was 262-327 months.

         On February 19, 2009 Petitioner was sentenced to 162 months imprisonment, to be followed by a five-year term of supervised release. Petitioner did not appeal his conviction or sentence to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

         Petitioner's Claim

         Petitioner claims that he is entitled to relief under the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). He argues that his convictions “no longer qualify as ‘violent felonies'” and that as a result, his currently imposed sentence of 167 months is greater than it otherwise would have been. He fails to specify which of his convictions are no longer violent felonies or for what reason.

         Discussion

         In Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), the Supreme Court held that the residual clause in the definition of a “violent felony” in the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B) (“ACCA”), is unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court has since determined that Johnson announced a new substantive rule of constitutional law that applies retroactively on collateral review in cases involving ACCA-enhanced sentences. United States v. Welch, 136 S.Ct. 1257 (2016). However, the Court's holding in Welch that Johnson applies retroactively in ACCA cases on collateral review does not govern the separate question of whether Johnson applies retroactively to claims based on the Sentencing Guidelines.

         In Donnell v. United States, 826 F.3d 1014 (8th Cir. 2016), the defendant applied for leave to file a successive petition based upon Johnson, seeking to extend Johnson and Welch by urging that the residual clause of the career offender provisions in the sentencing guidelines were unconstitutionally vague and that this extension should be applied retroactively to cases on collateral review. Id. The motion was denied and the Court concluded that “Donnell's successive motion seeks to assert a new right that has not been recognized by the Supreme Court or made retroactive on collateral review.” Id.

         One of the convictions referenced in the Presentence Investigation Report as a crime of violence was Domestic Assault Second Degree, under Docket No. 22011-03534-01. "Crime of violence" is defined in § 4B1.2(a) of the sentencing guidelines:

(a) The term "crime of violence" means any offense under federal or state law, punishable by imprisonment for a term ...

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