United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
WILLIAM T. PAYTON, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Civil Action No. 1:16CV543
M. HILTON DISTRICT JUDGE.
case is before the Court on William T. Payton's (the
"Petitioner") Motion To Vacate, Set Aside And/Or
Correct His Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255
seeking relief from his sentence under the Armed Career
Criminal Act ("ACCA") in light of the Supreme
Court's recent decision in Johnson v. United
States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). The Petitioner's
conviction for using and carrying a firearm during and in
relation to a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 924(c), which he collaterally attacks with his
Motion involves no issue raised by the Supreme Court in
October 18, 1999, a one-count criminal information was filed
in United States District Court charging Petitioner with
using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug
trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).
On that same day, Petitioner waived indictment and pleaded
guilty to the single-count criminal information pursuant to a
written plea agreement. The Petitioner also waived his right
to a Presentence Investigation Report and requested to be
sentenced that same day. The Court subsequently sentenced
Petitioner to 60 months of incarceration and three years of
on the record available to the United States, Petitioner
appears to have served his 60 months of incarceration; was
released; and commenced his period of supervision in and
around 2005. On October 13, 2006, this Court issued an arrest
warrant based on a petition for a supervised release
August 2, 2006, while on supervision in the Eastern District
of Virginia, the Petitioner was indicted by a federal grand
jury in the District of Maryland and charged with conspiracy
to distribute cocaine and other drug trafficking crimes. On
April 26, 2007, a jury returned a guilty verdict on three
counts of drug trafficking offenses. On September 26, 2007,
Petitioner was sentenced to 292 months of incarceration and
eight years of supervised release for his conviction of
conspiring to distribute cocaine. The Petitioner was also
sentenced to serve 96 months of incarceration and 292 months
of incarceration for the other drug trafficking counts. These
sentences were ordered to run concurrent with the sentence
imposed for conspiring to distribute cocaine.
Johnson, the Supreme Court "h[e]ld that
imposing an increased sentence under the residual clause of
the Armed Career Criminal Act, " in 18 U.S.C. § 924
(e) (2) (b) (ii), "violates the Constitution's
guarantee of due process" because the ACCA's
residual clause is unconstitutionally vague. 135 S.Ct. at
2563. In Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257
(2016), the Supreme Court held that Johnson's
invalidation of the residual clause-a provision that results
in a mandatory minimum that is higher than the statutory
maximum without the ACCA- is "a substantive decision and
so has retroactive effect ... in cases on collateral
review." 136 S.Ct. at 1265. The Petitioner is not
challenging the application of the ACCA's residual
clause. Instead, he is seeking, in his § 2255 Motion
filed more than a year after his conviction became final and
after he has served his 60 months of incarceration, to
challenge his conviction, I which only turns on the
interpretation of a "drug trafficking crime."
Because Petitioner's conviction is predicated on a drug
trafficking crime and not a "crime of violence, "
the issue of an unconstitutionally vague residual clause
related to crimes of violence, the topic of Johnson
never comes into play here at all.
"drug trafficking crime" is defined in 18 U.S.C.
§ 924(c)(2) as "any felony punishable under the
Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), the
Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (21 U.S.C. 951 et
seq.), or chapter 705 of title 46." Petitioner's
conviction therefore does not depend on interpreting the
meaning of a "violent felony" or a "crime of
violence." Moreover, the Supreme Court has never
suggested that the definition for a drug trafficking crime is
vague in light of Johnson nor has any lower court.
On the merits therefore Payton has no claim under Johnson.
See In re: Christian Parker, No. 16-9501, Dkt. No. 5
(4th Cir. June 27, 2016) ("Parker's 18 U.S.C. §
924(c) (2012) conviction is unaffected by Johnson
because it was premised on a drug conviction, not a crime of
violence."); see also United States v. Hare,
820 F.3d 93, 106 (4th Cir. 2016) (same).
Petitioner's §2255 Motion is also untimely. All
motions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 are subject to a one-year
statute of limitations. The year begins running from the
latest of, inter alia, "(1) the date on which the
judgment of conviction becomes final" or, relevant here,
"(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." 18 U.S.C.
§ 2255(f). Petitioner filed the present § 2255
Motion on May 13, 2016. Given that this Motion was filed more
than one year after his judgment became final, Petitioner
contends that his Motion is timely under § 2255(f) (3)
because it was filed within one year of the Supreme
Court's decision in Johnson, which was decided
on June 26, 2015. To determine whether Petitioner's
Motion is timely, the Court thus must assess whether
"the right asserted" now by the Petitioner is the
same as the "right" that was "newly
recognized" by the Supreme Court in Johnson.
For the reasons given above, it clearly is not.
Petitioner's Motion under § 2255 fails on the merits
because his conviction is based on his using and carrying a
firearm during and relation to a drug trafficking crime, a
provision unaffected by Johnson or any other case,
and Petitioner's § 2255 Motion, filed almost fifteen
years after his judgment of conviction was final in 2000, is
barred by the one-year period of limitations.
foregoing reasons, the Petitioner's Motion To Vacate, Set
Aside, Or Correct His Sentence pursuant to 28 ...