Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Williams

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

February 14, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ARTHUR LEE WILLIAMS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION (GRANTING 28 U.S.C. § 2255 MOTION)

          HENRY E. HUDSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Petitioner, proceeding pro se, filed this successive 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion. The Government acknowledges that, in light of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit's decision in United States v. Winston, 850 F.3d 677, 679 (4th Cir. 2017), Petitioner no longer qualifies for an enhanced sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA"). (ECF No. 189, at 1.) The Government asserts that this is harmless error because Petitioner "was sentenced on four counts to a total of three life sentences" and "[o]nly one of defendant's three convictions that resulted in a life sentence, [C]ount Six, related to the ACCA." (Id. at 2 (citations omitted).) Nevertheless, because Petitioner is no longer subject to ACCA for Count Six, as discussed below, the appropriate remedy is to correct his sentence for that count.

         I. Johnson v. United States

         In Johnson v. United States, the Supreme Court described the impact of the 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 violation[s] 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.

         II. Factual and Procedural Background

         A jury convicted Petitioner of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine (Count One), conspiracy to use and carry a firearm (Count Two), using and carrying a firearm to commit murder (Count Three), and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (Count Six). (Minute Entry, ECF No. 60; Presentence Report ("PSR") 1.) Petitioner qualified as a career offender under § 4B 1.1(b) of the United States Sentencing Guidelines ("USSG") in light of his prior convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses. (PSR ¶ 61.)[1] Additionally, Petitioner qualified for an enhanced statutory sentence under the ACCA. (Id. at 1.)[2] Although Petitioner qualified for sentencing enhancements as a career offender and under the ACCA, those designations did not drive his Sentencing Guidelines range. Rather, Petitioner had an Offense Level of 43, driven by cross-reference to first-degree murder, pursuant to USSG § 2A 1.1. (PSR Wkst A, at 1; PSR Wkst D, at 1.)[3] Petitioner also qualified for a Criminal History Category of VI based on his extensive criminal history alone and not due to any enhancement. (PSR ¶ 62.) Petitioner's advisory guidelines range was life in prison; however, Count Two carried a statutory maximum sentence of 240 months. (PSR Wkst D, at 1.) At sentencing, the Court sentenced Petitioner to life in prison on Counts One, Three, and Six, and to 240 months on Count Two. (ECF No. 75.)

         By Memorandum Opinion and Order entered on June 22, 2004, the Court denied a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion filed by Petitioner. (ECF Nos. 117, 118.) By Order entered on April 27, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit granted Petitioner authorization to file a second or successive § 2255 motion for his ACCA claim based on Johnson. (ECF No. 170, at 1.)

         In his current § 2255 Motion, Petitioner contends: "Under Johnson, his priors convictions for burglary and robbery, under Virginia law, do not qualify as crimes of violence; rendering his classification and sentence under § 924(e) constitutionally and statutorily infirm." (Br. Supp. § 2255 Mot. 1, ECF No. 176 (citations omitted).)

         III. Analysis

         A. Petitioner Is Entitled to Relief on His Enhanced ACCA Sentence

         Since the filing of Petitioner's 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has concluded that the Virginia offense of common law robbery does not qualify as a violent felony for imposing an enhanced ACCA sentence. See United States v. Winston, 850 F.3d 677, 679 (4th Cir. 2017). The Government acknowledges that in the wake of Winston, Petitioner's robbery conviction no longer qualifies as predicate for an enhanced ACCA sentence. (ECF No. 189, at 1.) Therefore, Petitioner no longer qualifies for the enhanced ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.