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United States v. Williams

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

October 18, 2017




         THIS MATTER is before the Court on the Government's Unopposed Motion to Correct Sentence, filed September 11, 2017. ("Motion to Correct, " ECF No. 72.) The Motion to Correct addressed Timothy M. Williams's Second Amended § 2255 Motion and recommended that the Court reduce his sentence to 120 months. The Court issued an Order granting the Government's Motion to Correct on the same day that it was filed. (ECF No. 73.) The Order indicated that a Memorandum Opinion articulating the Court's reasoning would be forthcoming. For the reasons discussed below, the Court granted the Government's recommended relief and further ordered that Williams be released from confinement.


         In Johnson v. United States, the Supreme Court described the impact of the Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA") on federal gun laws and noted that:

Federal law forbids certain people-such as convicted felons, persons committed to mental institutions, and drug users-to ship, possess, and receive firearms. § 922(g). In general, the law punishes violations] of this ban by up to 10 years' imprisonment. § 924(a)(2). But if the violator has three or more earlier convictions for a "serious drug offense" or a "violent felony, " the [ACCA] increases his prison term to a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of life. § 924(e)(1).

135 S.Ct. 2551, 2555 (2015) (citations omitted).

         The ACCA defines a violent felony as: "any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year" and "(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" 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B) (emphasis added). "The closing words of this definition, italicized above, have come to be known as the Act's residual clause." Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2556. In Johnson, the Supreme Court held that the residual clause of the ACCA is unconstitutionally vague. Id. at 2557.

         Williams pled guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). United States v. Williams, 223 Fed.Appx. 280, 280-81 (4th Cir. 2007). The Presentence Report ("PSR") "concluded that Williams qualified as an armed career criminal under the [ACCA], 18 U.S.C.A. § 924(e) (West 2000 & Supp. 2006), meaning that he was subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of not less than fifteen years' (180 months') imprisonment." Id. at 281. At sentencing, the Court determined "that Williams had five qualifying prior felony convictions under the ACCA: two burglary convictions, one consolidated larceny from the person conviction, and two robbery convictions." Id. The Court sentenced Williams to 210 months of imprisonment and five years supervised released. (ECF No. 35.)

         Williams appealed and challenged the determination that he had "three qualifying predicate felonies under the ACCA." Williams, 223 Fed.Appx. at 282. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the judgment of this Court. Id. at 285.

         On May 11, 2016, Williams filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence. (ECF No. 50, at 12.) The Court appointed Williams counsel and granted Williams's requests to file an Amended § 2255 Motion and subsequently a Second Amended § 2255 Motion. (ECF Nos. 51, 53, 57-1, 61.) In his Second Amended § 2255 Motion, the Court construed Williams to argue:

Claim One: In light of United States v. Descamps, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013), Williams's prior convictions for burglary and robbery fail to qualify as predicate offenses for imposing an enhanced sentence under ACCA.
Claim Two: Williams's prior conviction for larceny from the person no longer qualifies as an ACCA predicate in the wake of Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015).

(ECF No. 60, at 5.)

         By Order entered on December 7, 2016, the Court denied the Second Amended § 2255 Motion. ("§ 2255 Denial Order, " ECF No. 61.) In an accompanying Memorandum Opinion, the Court found that Claim One was untimely and that any error raised by Claim Two was harmless, because Williams still had four violent felonies to support his enhanced sentence under the ACCA. (ECF No. 60, at 5.) Williams appealed the denial of his Second Amended § 2255 Motion. (ECF No. 62.) While his appeal was still pending, the Government filed an unopposed motion requesting that the Fourth Circuit vacate the § 2255 ...

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