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United States v. Baylor

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

April 24, 2019




         Troy Douglas Baylor, a federal inmate proceeding with counsel, brings this successive motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence ("§ 2255 Motion," ECF No. 169; see also Mem. Supp. § 2255 Mot, ECF No. 194).[1] Baylor contends that his convictions and sentences are invalid under Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). The Government filed its Response contending that Baylor's claims lack merit. (ECF No. 200.) Baylor has filed a Reply. (ECF No. 203.) For the reasons stated below, the § 2255 Motion will be DENIED.

         I. Procedural History

         On March 1, 2011, a grand jury charged Baylor with: conspiracy to interfere with commerce by threats and violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) ("Hobbs Act robbery") (Count One); four additional counts of Hobbs Act robbery (Counts Two, Five, Eight, and Eleven); use and carry of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(ii) and 2 (Counts Three, Six, Nine, and Twelve); and possession of a firearm by a felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 2. (Counts Four, Seven, Ten, and Thirteen). (Indictment 1-8, ECF No. 1.) On January 30, 2012, the Government filed a motion to dismiss Counts Five through Ten as to Baylor and his co-defendant and brother, James Baylor. (ECF No. 79.) The Court granted the Government's motion by Order entered on February 1, 2012. (ECF No. 81.) Following trial, a jury convicted Baylor of all the remaining counts. (ECF No. 88, at 1-3.) During sentencing, the Court determined that Baylor qualified as a career offender under United States Sentencing Guidelines ("USSG") §§ 4B 1.1 (c)(2)(A) and 4B1.4 in light of his prior convictions for crimes of violence. (PSR ¶ 99, ECF No. 165.)[2] Additionally, Baylor qualified for an enhanced statutory sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA") based on these prior convictions. (Id.)[3] On April 24, 2012, the Court entered judgment against Baylor and sentenced him to a total of 624 months of imprisonment. (Am. J. 3, ECF No. 125.)

         Baylor, through counsel, filed a Notice of Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. (ECF No. 108.) The Fourth Circuit affirmed this Court's judgment. (ECF Nos. 126, 127.) On December 2, 2013, the United States Supreme Court denied Baylor's petition for a writ of certiorari. Baylor v. United States, 134 S.Ct. 717 (2013).

         By Memorandum Opinion and Order entered on February 16, 2016, the Court denied Baylor's first § 2255 motion. United States v. Baylor, No. 3:11CR64, 2016 WL 659100, at *l-7 (E.D. Va. Feb. 16, 2016); (see ECF Nos. 156, 157.) On July 19, 2016, the Fourth Circuit granted Baylor permission to file a successive § 2255 motion based on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). (ECF No. 174.)

         II. Johnson v. United States

         In Johnson v. United States, the Supreme Court described the impact of 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. at 2555 (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 struck down the ACCA's residual clause as unconstitutionally vague. Id. at 2557.

         III. Analysis

         In his § 2255 Motion and accompanying Memorandum in Support, Baylor raises three Johnson-bassd. challenges to his convictions and sentence:

Claim One: Baylor no longer qualifies for the career offender enhancement under the United States Sentencing Guidelines ("USSG");
Claim Two: Baylor's firearm convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) are invalidated; and,
Claim Three: Baylor no longer qualifies for an enhanced ...

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