Submitted: February 14, 2019
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - Minneapolis
LOKEN, COLLOTON, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
Taylor pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a
firearm in September 2015. In his plea agreement and at
sentencing, consistent with Eighth Circuit precedent, Taylor
conceded that he had three or more prior convictions for a
"violent felony" as defined in the Armed Career
Criminal Act ("ACCA"), making him subject to the
ACCA's mandatory minimum fifteen-year sentence.
See 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). Taylor reserved the
right to challenge his ACCA status in post- conviction
proceedings if the law changed. The district
court sentenced him to the minimum 180 months in
prison. Several months later, Taylor filed this 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 motion to vacate his sentence, arguing that his
prior Minnesota convictions for simple robbery, first-degree
assault, and second-degree assault no longer qualified as
"violent felonies" after the Supreme Court's
June 2015 decision in Samuel Johnson v. United
States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). Taylor appeals the
district court's denial of § 2255 relief. We affirm.
only issue on appeal is whether Taylor's prior Minnesota
conviction for "simple robbery" is a violent felony
under the ACCA's "force clause." The Minnesota
statute provides that a person commits simple robbery if he -
takes personal property from the person or in the presence of
another and uses or threatens the imminent use of force
against any person to overcome the person's resistance or
powers of resistance to, or to compel acquiescence in, the
taking or carrying away of the property . . . .
Minn. Stat. § 609.24. With this appeal pending, we held
that Minnesota simple robbery is a "violent felony"
conviction under the ACCA's force clause, resolving a
conflict between District of Minnesota decisions. United
States v. Pettis, 888 F.3d 962 (8th Cir. 2018),
cert. denied, 139 S.Ct. 1258 (2019). Before the
appeal was submitted to our panel, the Supreme Court issued
its decision in Stokeling v. United States, 139
S.Ct. 544 (2019), holding that a Florida robbery conviction
is a "violent felony" under the ACCA. The parties
then submitted helpful supplemental memoranda addressing
whether the Supreme Court's analysis in
Stokeling affects our decision in Pettis,
which is otherwise controlling precedent.
Curtis Johnson v. United States, the Supreme Court
held that, "in the context of a statutory definition of
'violent felony,' the phrase 'physical
force' means violent force -- that is, force
capable of causing physical pain or injury to another
person." 559 U.S. 133, 140 (2010) (emphasis in
original). In Pettis, using the categorical approach
to determine whether a conviction qualifies as a violent
felony under the force clause, we reviewed prior Minnesota
decisions and concluded that "state caselaw supports a
finding that Minnesota simple robbery requires violent force
and qualifies as a predicate offense under the ACCA."
888 F.3d at 966; accord United States v. Libby, 880
F.3d 1011, 1015-16 (8th Cir. 2018). In both cases, we
rejected the argument that State v. Nelson, 297
N.W.2d 285 (Minn. 1980), demonstrated that simple robbery in
Minnesota did not require use of "physical force"
because the defendants in Nelson at least
threatened the use of violent force before the
victim slipped out of his coat and ran away. Id. at
Stokeling, the Supreme Court considered a Florida
statute that defined robbery as the taking of property from
another person "when in the course of the taking there
is the use of force, violence, assault, or putting in
fear." Fla. Stat. § 812.13(1) (1995). The Florida
Supreme Court interpreted the statute to require
"resistance by the victim that is overcome by the
physical force of the offender." Robinson v.
State, 692 So.2d 883, 886 (Fla. 1997). By contrast,
"[t]he snatching or grabbing of property without such
resistance by the victim" is theft, not robbery.
Id. at 887. The Supreme Court in Stokeling
held that "the force necessary to overcome a
victim's physical resistance is inherently
'violent' in the sense contemplated by [Curtis]
Johnson" because "robbery that must overcome a
victim's will . . . necessarily involves a physical
confrontation and struggle," even if the altercation
does not cause pain or injury and is not prolonged. 139 S.Ct.
at 553. "Robbery under Florida law corresponds to that
level of force," the Court concluded, "and
therefore qualifies as a 'violent felony' under
ACCA's [force] clause." Id. at 555.
relevant here, Minnesota's simple robbery statute is
virtually indistinguishable from the Florida statute at issue
in Stokeling. In both States, a mere
"snatching" of property, without more, is not the
level of force required. Instead, to constitute robbery, the
defendant must use, attempt to use, or threaten to use enough
physical force to "overcome" a victim's
"resistance." Compare Robinson, 692 So.2d
at 886-87, with State v. Oksanen, 249 N.W.2d 464,
466 (Minn. 1977).
argues that Minnesota simple robbery is not a "violent
felony" after Stokeling because § 609.24,
unlike the common law of robbery, includes the use of force
"in . . . carrying away" property that was
taken without force. See State v. Burrell,
506 N.W.2d 34, 36 (Minn.App. 1993). But the force clause
defines "violent felony" as including "any
crime" that has the requisite use of force "as an
element." Thus, it is irrelevant whether the state law
"robbery" crime at issue is broader than common law
robbery. The question is whether, categorically, the crime
involves "the use, attempted use, or threatened use of
physical force." 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(i).
Notably, the Florida robbery statute at issue in
Stokeling prohibited use of force "in the
course of the taking," which the statute defined to
include acts committed after the taking if those acts
"and the act of taking constitute a continuous series of
acts or events." Fla. Stat. § 812.13(1), (3)(b);
see Thomas v. State, 36 So.3d 853, 854, 856 &
n.3 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2010).
Burrell, the defendant used violent force against a
store owner who was trying to retrieve merchandise the
defendant had just stolen. 506 N.W.2d at 36-37. Thus, like
the other state court decisions reviewed in Libby
and Pettis, Burrell "supports a
finding that [the crime of] Minnesota simple robbery requires
violent force." Like the defendants in Libby
and Pettis, Taylor cites no contrary state court
decision. Therefore, after careful consideration, we conclude
that the Supreme Court's decision in Stokeling
reinforced -- and certainly did not cast doubt on -- our
decision in Pettis that a prior Minnesota conviction
for the crime of simple robbery is a "violent
felony" under the ACCA's force clause. 888 F.3d at
judgment of the district court denying Taylor's motion to
vacate his sentence ...