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United States v. Rumley

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

January 17, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CLINTON LEE RUMLEY, Defendant.

          AMENDED MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HON. JACKSON L. KISER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Clinton Lee Rumley, a federal inmate, has filed an authorized successive motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that his enhanced sentence as an armed career criminal under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), (“ACCA”), is unlawful. After consideration of the record and applicable case law, the court concludes the Rumley's motion must be granted.

         I.

         Rumley was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). He proceeded to trial and was found guilty. Rumley's Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) recommended that he receive an increased sentence because he qualified as an armed career criminal in that he had at least three prior convictions for a violent felony and/or a serious drug offense. (PSR ¶ 17, ECF No. 56.) The predicate offenses supporting his status as an armed career criminal included prior Virginia convictions for robbery by force, abduction, malicious wounding and unlawful wounding. (Id. ¶¶ 26, 30, 32, and 35.) On December 18, 2008, the court sentenced Rumley to a total of 180 months' incarceration after adopting the PSR and concluding that he was an armed career criminal. Rumley appealed but the Fourth Circuit affirmed his conviction and sentence. United States v. Rumley, 588 F.3d 202, 206 (4th Cir. 2009). He also filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States, which was denied. Rumley v. United States, 599 U.S. 1081 (2010) (Mem).

         I appointed the Federal Public Defender's Office to represent Rumley and provide briefing, if necessary, in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 2563 (2015), pursuant to Standing Order 2015-5. The Federal Public Defender's Office filed a § 2255 Motion on Rumley's behalf. On September 19, 2017, the case was stayed pending a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in United States v. Jenkins, No. 16-4121. Jenkins has now been decided, No. 16-4121, 2018 WL 1225728 (4th Cir. March 9, 2018) (unpublished); accordingly, the § 2255 Motion is ripe for review.

         II.

         To state a viable claim for relief under § 2255, a petitioner must prove: (1) that his or her sentence was “imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States;” (2) that “the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence;” or (3) that “the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Rumley bears the burden of proving grounds for a collateral attack by a preponderance of the evidence. Miller v. United States, 261 F.2d 546, 547 (4th Cir. 1958).

         A. The ACCA Enhanced Sentence Structure

         Rumley claims that he no longer qualifies as an armed career criminal because his robbery, abduction, malicious wounding and unlawful wounding convictions cannot be used to support an enhanced sentence under the ACCA.

         Federal law prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). Defendants who violate this law are subject to a term of up to ten years' imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2). However, when defendants convicted of a § 922(g) charge have three or more prior convictions for “serious drug offenses” or “violent felonies, ” they qualify as armed career criminals under the ACCA. Armed career criminals face an increased punishment: a statutory mandatory minimum of fifteen years' imprisonment and a maximum of life. 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1).

         In Johnson, the Supreme Court invalidated part of the definition of “violent felony” under the ACCA. 135 S.Ct. 2563. Specifically it concluded that crimes “otherwise involv[ing] conduct that present[ed] a serious potential risk of physical injury to another, ” known as the “residual clause, ” was unconstitutionally vague. Id. at 2555, 2563. However, it did not strike down the other portions of the violent felony definition, including the “force clause, ” which covers crimes that have “as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(i). The Supreme Court's decision in Johnson announced a new rule of constitutional law that applies retroactively to cases on collateral review. Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257, 1268 (2016).

         B. Predicate Offenses

         Rumley has four predicate offenses that the court used to support his enhanced ACCA sentence: robbery, abduction, malicious wounding and unlawful wounding convictions.

         1. Rob ...


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