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Boyd v. United States

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

August 25, 2017

WILLIE E. BOYD, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          E. RICHARD WEBBER, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Willie E. Boyd's Motion to Vacate [ECF No. 1].

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 7, 1997, Petitioner Willie E. Boyd (“Petitioner”) was indicted for various federal offenses, and on December 4, 1997, a superseding indictment was filed against Petitioner for the federal offenses of possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C), two counts of felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and 924(e), two counts of false representation of a social security number in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 408(a)(7), and three counts of structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements in violation of 31 U.S.C. 5313, 5324(a)(2) and 5324(a)(2). On April 16, 1998, Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh found Petitioner guilty on all counts.

         To determine Petitioner's sentence, the Court used the 1995 Guidelines Manual and calculated Petitioner's base offense level under § 2K2.1(a)(4)(A) at 20. He received a one-level increase pursuant to 2K2.1(b)(1)(A), because his offense involved at least three firearms, and a two-level increase for obstruction of justice, because he provided materially false information to a law enforcement officer. His total offense level was 23, which was increased to 24 when he was found to be an armed career criminal on the basis of his prior convictions which included: Missouri robbery first degree by means of a dangerous and deadly weapon, Missouri burglary second degree, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin. His criminal history category was V, but increased to VI because he was determined to be an armed career criminal and he used and possessed a firearm in connection with a controlled substance offense. The guideline range was 262 to 327 months. On October 2, 1998, Petitioner was sentenced to 276 months imprisonment and a six-year term of supervised release.

         After the United States Supreme Court decided Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2251 (2015), Petitioner filed the present pro se motion to correct his sentence asserting he is no longer an armed career criminal in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson.

         II. ANALYSIS

         In Johnson, the Supreme Court determined the residual clause in the definition of “violent felony” in the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) was unconstitutionally vague. 135 S.Ct. 2551. Subsequently, in United States v. Welch, the Supreme Court ruled Johnson was a new substantive rule, retroactive on collateral review. 136 S.Ct. 1257 (2016). Thus, defendants, who were determined to be armed career criminals under the residual clause of the ACCA, may seek collateral review of their sentences within one year of the Supreme Court's Johnson decision. Petitioner filed his motion within the one-year time limit and received permission from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to file a successive habeas motion.

         Petitioner asserts he is no longer an armed career criminal because his prior convictions for robbery in the first degree and burglary in the second degree no longer qualify as predicate offenses under the ACCA. The Government argues Petitioner cannot file a second or successive habeas claim because Descamps and Mathis, the bases of his claim, are not retroactive. Further, the Government contends even if he was eligible, his burglary and robbery convictions qualify as violent felonies. The parties agree Petitioner's prior conviction for possession with intent to distribute cocaine and heroin is a qualifying drug offense under the ACCA.

         A. Requirements of 28 U.S.C. §§ 2244 and 2255(h)(2)

         Section 2244(b)(4) of Title 28 states a “district court shall dismiss any claim presented in a second or successive application that the court of appeal has authorized to be filed unless the applicant shows that the claim satisfies the requirements of this section.” Section 2255(h)(2) requires a second or successive habeas motion to contain a “new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable.” The Government argues Petitioner does not present a cognizable claim because it is not based on a new rule of constitutional law. The Government contends Petitioner's claims are rooted in Descamps v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013), and Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), rather than Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which are not new rules of constitutional law and cannot provide retroactive relief.

         The Court finds it is through Johnson that Petitioner seeks relief, not Descamps and Mathis. Johnson provides movant with an avenue of relief not previously available to him, his motion utilizes that decision and therefore, relies on a “new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court, that was previously unavailable.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h)(2). The Johnson decision opens the door for Petitioner to file his successive habeas motion. The Court rejects the Government's argument on this issue.

         B. Robbery in the First Degree

         Petitioner argues his 1967 conviction for robbery in the first degree by means of a dangerous and deadly weapon, under Missouri Revised Statute § 560.120, does not qualify as a predicate offense because this ...


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