United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division
R. Wolthuis, Assistant United States Attorney, Roanoke,
Virginia for United States; Lisa M. Lorish, Assistant Federal
Public Defender, Charlottesville, Virginia, for Defendant.
P. Jones United States District Judge
defendant, Maurice Edward Jackson, has filed an authorized
successive Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that his enhanced
sentence as a career offender under United States Sentencing
Guidelines (“U.S.S.G.”) §§ 4B1.1 and
4B1.2, is unlawful. After consideration of the record and
applicable case law, I conclude that Jackson's motion
must be dismissed as untimely.
was charged in an Indictment with conspiracy to possess with
intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine base, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. He
proceeded to trial and was found guilty. Jackson's
Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”)
recommended that he receive an increased sentence because he
qualified as a career offender in that he had “at least
two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or
a controlled substance offense, ” pursuant to U.S.S.G.
§ 4B1.1. PSR ¶ 29, ECF No. 265. The predicate
offenses supporting his status as a career offender included
prior convictions for drug possession, prison breach and
assault with a dangerous weapon. Id. ¶¶
33, 34 and 35. On October 28, 1994, the court sentenced
Jackson to a total of 360 months' incarceration, after
concluding that he was a career offender. Jackson appealed,
and the Fourth Circuit affirmed his conviction and sentence.
United States v. Stevenson, Nos. 94-5874, 94-5875,
94-5876, 1996 WL 44091, at *6 (4th Cir. Feb. 5, 1996)
(unpublished). He filed a petition for a writ of certiorari
to the Supreme Court, which was denied on May 28, 1996.
Jackson v. United States, 517 U.S. 1229 (1996).
§ 2255 Motion, Jackson challenges the constitutionality
of former U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a), which defined a
“crime of violence, ” in part, as an offense that
“otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious
potential risk of physical injury to another, ”
referred to as the “residual clause.” He bases
his argument on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct.
2551, 2563 (2015), in which the Supreme Court held that an
identically worded residual clause in a federal statute, 18
U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B), was unconstitutionally vague and
could not be used to increase a defendant's sentence.
However, Jackson's argument that his crime of violence
convictions no longer support his career offender status
because the residual clause in the Guidelines is
unconstitutional, is foreclosed by Beckles v. United
States, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017). The Supreme Court, in
Beckles, held that the Guidelines are not subject to
a similar constitutional challenge as they merely
“guide the exercise of a court's discretion”
and do not “fix the permissible range of
sentences” that a defendant faces. 137 S.Ct. at 892.
Jackson argues that the court's determination that he
qualified as a career offender is governed by
Johnson, not Beckles. Jackson was sentenced
under a pre-Booker mandatory Guideline scheme.
United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 245 (2005)
(holding, in order to avoid a constitutional violation, that
the Sentencing Guidelines are advisory and not mandatory).
Accordingly, he argues that the mandatory Guidelines, which
fixed his sentencing range, acted as the functional
equivalent of a statutorily imposed sentence, and as a
result, the reasoning of Johnson applies. Suppl.
Mem. Supp. § 2255 Mot. 4-5, ECF No. 255.
Beckles court did not address whether a
constitutional infirmity might arise in circumstances where a
defendant was sentenced under the mandatory-Guidelines regime
that existed prior to Booker. The Fourth Circuit, in
United States v. Brown, was faced with just such a
situation, and ultimately concluded that the defendant was
not entitled to relief because on collateral review, he could
not overcome the stringent timeliness hurdle required by 28
U.S.C. § 2255. 868 F.3d 297, 299 (4th Cir. 2017).
a defendant must file a motion under § 2255 within one
year from the date on which the defendant's judgment
became final. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1). However, the
statute allows for an additional one-year period to run when
a defendant relies on a rule of constitutional law newly
recognized by the Supreme Court, starting from “the
date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by
the Supreme Court.” Id. § 2255(f)(3). The
Brown court concluded that in neither
Johnson nor Beckles had the Supreme Court
expressly recognized the right of a defendant to obtain
relief who was sentenced as a career offender under a
mandatory-Guideline regime. Brown, 868 F.3d at 302.
By leaving open that question, the Supreme Court failed to
“recognize” a “new right” in the
mandatory Sentencing Guideline context. Id. at 301.
Accordingly, a defendant sentenced as a career offender under
the mandatory Guidelines could not rely on the additional
one-year limitations period in § 2255(f)(3).
Id. at 302.
was sentenced in 1994 and his judgment became final following
the denial of his certiorari petition in 1996. He did not
file this § 2255 petition until 2016, 20 years after his
judgment became final. ...