United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Danville Division
AMENDED MEMORANDUM OPINION
JACKSON L. KISER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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.
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).
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1225728 (4th Cir. March 9, 2018) (unpublished); accordingly,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.
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).
The ACCA Enhanced Sentence Structure
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.
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).
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).
has four predicate offenses that the court used to support
his enhanced ACCA sentence: robbery, abduction, malicious
wounding and unlawful wounding convictions.