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United States v. Richardson

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 6, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JAMES LAMONT RICHARDSON, Defendant-Petitioner.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO VACATE, SET ASIDE, OR CORRECT HIS SENTENCE PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ECF NO. 403

          LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Petitioner James Lamont Richardson's (“Petitioner, ” “Defendant, ” or “Richardson”) motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (“§ 2255”). (ECF No. 403.) Petitioner filed an application for permission to file a second or successive § 2255 motion to the Ninth Circuit, with his motion attached, on June 23, 2016. (Id.) The Ninth Circuit granted Petitioner's application for leave to file a second or successive § 2255 motion on March 21, 2017. (ECF No. 402.) On April 14, 2017, the Government filed its opposition. (ECF No. 410.) Petitioner filed a reply on April 27, 2017. (ECF No. 412.) Having considered the parties' briefing and the record in this case, the Court DENIES Petitioner's motion under § 2255.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On February 4, 1999, Richardson was found guilty after a jury trial of two counts of Hobbs Act robbery, one count of theft of a firearm, two counts of carrying a firearm during a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1), two counts of death caused by use of a firearm during a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(j)(1). (ECF Nos. 158, 159.) Based on a second superseding indictment, Mr. Richardson pled guilty to one additional count of Hobbs Act robbery and one additional count of carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, pursuant to a plea agreement. (ECF No 403, Ex. D.) The district court sentenced Richardson to two terms of life imprisonment for the deaths caused by the use of firearms during, two terms of 240 months imprisonment concurrent for Hobbs Act robbery, 60 months consecutive for carrying a firearm during a robbery, 240 months consecutive for carrying a firearm during a different robbery, and 120 months concurrent for theft of a firearm. (ECF No. 403, Ex. A.)

         III. LEGAL FRAMEWORK

         A. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         Section 2255 provides four grounds upon which a sentencing court may grant relief to a petitioning in-custody defendant:

[1] that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or [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 [4] is otherwise subject to collateral attack.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Generally, only a narrow range of claims fall within the scope of § 2255. United States v. Wilcox, 640 F.2d 970, 972 (9th Cir. 1981). The alleged error of law must be “a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 346 (1974).

         B. Johnson II and Welch

         Pursuant to the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), a defendant must be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 15 years to life in prison if he has three prior convictions for “a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). The ACCA defines “violent felony” as any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year that:

(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). Courts generally refer to the first clause, § 924(e)(2)(B)(i), as the “elements clause”; the first part of the disjunctive statement in (ii) as the “enumerated offenses clause”; and its second part (starting with “or otherwise”) as the “residual clause.” Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 2556-57, 2563 (2015) (“Johnson II”); United States v. Lee, 821 F.3d 1124, 1126 (9th Cir. 2016).

         In Johnson II, the Supreme Court held that “imposing an increased sentence under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act violates the Constitution's guarantee of due process, ” on the basis that “the indeterminacy of the wide-ranging inquiry required by the residual clause both denies fair notice to defendants and invites arbitrary enforcement by judges.” 135 S.Ct. at 2557, 2563. “Two features of the residual clause conspire to make it unconstitutionally vague.” Id. at 2557. First, “the residual clause leaves grave uncertainty about how to estimate the risk posed by a crime” by “t[ying] the judicial assessment of risk to a judicially imagined ‘ordinary case' of a crime, not to real-world facts or statutory elements.” Id. Second, “[b]y combining indeterminacy about how to measure the risk posed by a crime with indeterminacy about how much risk it takes for the crime to qualify as a violent felony, the residual clause produces more unpredictability and arbitrariness than the Due Process Clause tolerates.” Id. at 2558.

         The Supreme Court subsequently held that its decision in Johnson II announced a new substantive rule that applies retroactively to cases on collateral review. Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257, 1268 (2016). “By striking down the residual clause for vagueness, [Johnson II] changed the substantive reach of the Armed Career Criminal Act, altering the ‘range of conduct or the class of persons that the [Act] punishes.” Id. at 1265 (quoting Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U.S. 348, 353 (2004)). As a result, defendants sentenced pursuant to the ACCA residual ...


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