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United States v. Carter

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

July 19, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ANTWAIN O. CARTER

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROBERT E. PAYNE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Antwain o. Carter, a federal inmate proceeding pro se, submitted this motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence ("§ 2255 Motion/' ECF No. 85). In his § 2255 Motion, Carter raises the following claim for relief:

Claim One: In the wake of Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), Carter fails to qualify for a career offender sentencing enhancement under the Sentencing Guidelines. (See ECF No. 87, at 13-14.)[1]

The Government has responded and requested the Court hold Claim One in abeyance pending the Supreme Court's decision in Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017).[2] As the Supreme Court has decided Beckles and that decision forecloses Carter's theory for relief, the Court will summarily dismiss Claim One.[3]

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 5, 2008, a grand jury charged Carter with: possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base (Count One); possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime (Count Two); and, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon (Count Three) . (ECF No. 1, at 1-2.) Carter pled guilty to Counts One and Two. (ECF No. 20 ¶ 1.) At sentencing, the Court determined that Carter qualified for a sentencing enhancement as a career offender under the Sentencing Guidelines based upon his prior convictions for distribution of cocaine, assault and battery-third offense, and grand larceny from the person. (ECF No. 50, at 7-8.) The Court sentenced Carter to 180 months of imprisonment on Count One, to be followed by a 60-month term of imprisonment on Count Two. (ECF No. 26, at 2.)

         II. ANALYSIS

         In Claim One, Carter contends that the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), renders his career offender enhancement unconstitutional. (See ECF No. 87, at 13-14.)

         A. Johnson And The Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA")

         As the Supreme Court has noted,

[u]nder the [ACCA] ¶ 1984, a defendant convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm faces more severe punishment if he has three or more previous convictions for a "violent felony," a term defined to include any felony that "involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another."

Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2555 (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)). This part of the definition of violent felony "ha[s] come to be known as the Act's residual clause." Id. The Johnson Court held "that imposing an increased sentence under the residual clause of the [ACCA] violates the Constitution's guarantee of due process.''' Id. at 2563.

         B. Sentencing Guidelines Regarding Career Offenders

         Carter was not sentenced pursuant to the ACCA. Instead, Carter was sentenced as a career offender under the United States ...


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