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United States v. Crawford

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Charlottesville Division

November 22, 2016

United States of America,
v.
Edison Pilgrim Crawford, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NORMAN K. MOON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Judge Norman K. Moon Defendant, represented by appointed counsel, has filed-pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015)-a motion to vacate his sentence. (Dkt. 155). Defendant's sentence was significantly enhanced under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) because his three prior convictions-from over forty-five years ago-for Virginia breaking and entering were treated as “violent felonies” within the meaning of the Act. In 2015, the Supreme Court invalidated what is known as the “residual clause” of the ACCA, Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2557, and on April 18, 2016, the Court made Johnson retroactive on collateral review. Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257 (2016).

         Defendant now argues that his prior convictions do not satisfy the ACCA's remaining clauses. Accordingly, he argues he should not have received the ACCA enhancement and is entitled to resentencing. Furthermore, defendant argues that his non-ACCA sentencing guidelines entitle him to immediate release, as he has served time well beyond his guidelines range.

         Although I find Defendant's current sentence inequitable, his motion cannot be granted. Review of the transcript of Defendant's sentencing hearing clearly demonstrates that he was sentenced under the “enumerated clause” of the ACCA, not the residual clause. (Dkt. 91). Because Johnson left the enumerated clause intact, that decision has no bearing on Defendant's case. Without the aid of Johnson's retroactive ruling, Defendant's successive petition is procedurally barred by 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f) because it does not rely on a new rule of constitutional law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review.

         BACKGROUND

         On June 30, 2003, Crawford pled guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) and to possession of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 844. On July 28, 2005, the Court sentenced him to 180 months imprisonment after finding that he was subject to an ACCA enhancement because his prior convictions for three counts of Virginia breaking and entering in 1971 qualified as “violent felonies” within the meaning of the ACCA.

         ANALYSIS

         I. The ACCA and Johnson

         Under the ACCA, a mandatory minimum fifteen-year sentence applies to an individual convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm who have at least three prior “violent felony” or “serious drug offense” convictions. 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). The ACCA defines a “violent felony” as:

any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year . . . that-
(i) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another; or
(ii) is burglary, arson, or extortion, involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.
§ 924(e)(2)(B). The Supreme Court, in Johnson, invalidated the language stricken above, also known as the “residual clause, ” as unconstitutionally vague. Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 2555-56 (2015).

         Defendant's motion relies on the interplay of all three clauses. First, Defendant argues that breaking and entering cannot qualify under the “residual clause, ” because it has been deemed unconstitutional. Second, Defendant argues that breaking and entering convictions do not qualify under the “force clause.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(i). And, lastly, Defendant argues that breaking and ...


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