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Wilson v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

April 4, 2017

GREGORY V. WILSON MOVANT/DEFENDANT
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA RESPONDENT/PLAINTIFF

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas B. Russell, Senior Judge United States District Court

          This matter is before the Court upon Movant Gregory V. Wilson's pro se motion to vacate his conviction and sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. [DN 38.] This Court referred the matter to Magistrate Judge Lanny King for findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a recommendation. [DN 39.] The Magistrate Judge recommends that Wilson's motion be denied. See [DN 49.] Wilson has filed objections to portions of the Magistrate Judge's report. [DN 50.] The Court must review de novo those portions of the Magistrate Judge's recommended disposition to which Wilson objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). After careful consideration of Wilson's objections and the record, the Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that Wilson's motion is without merit. Therefore, for the following reasons, Wilson's motion to vacate his sentence and conviction pursuant to § 2255 [DN 38] is DENIED. Furthermore, the Court DENIES a certificate of appealability as to all grounds raised in his motion.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         For the purposes of Wilson's § 2255 motion, the facts are undisputed. Wilson pled guilty, pursuant to a written plea agreement, to being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). See [DN 15.] At sentencing, Wilson admitted that he qualified as an armed career criminal under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1), the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). [DN 42 at 3.] The Court sentenced Wilson to fifteen years' imprisonment, the statutory minimum under 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924(e).

         Subsequently, the Supreme Court held in Johnson v. United States, __ U.S., 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), that ACCA's “residual clause” is unconstitutionally vague. Based upon Johnson and its progeny, Wilson now moves the Court to vacate his conviction and sentence. See [DN 38.] The Magistrate Judge recommends that Wilson's motion be denied because Wilson was not sentenced under ACCA's residual clause. [DN 49 at 3-4.] Rather, Wilson qualifies as an armed career criminal because of his four convictions for first-degree cocaine trafficking in Kentucky state court. [Id. at 3.] Wilson filed objections to the Magistrate Judge's report, [DN 50], and the time for filing a response has passed. This matter is ripe for adjudication.

         II. Standard of Review

          A prisoner may request that his sentence be set aside on the grounds that it was “imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). “The statute does not provide a remedy, however, for every error that may have been made in the proceedings leading to conviction, ” but only “when the error qualifies as a ‘fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.'” Slater v. United States, 38 F.Supp.2d 587, 589 (M.D. Tenn. 1999) (quoting Reed v. Farley, 512 U.S. 339 (1994)).

         III. Discussion

         The Armed Career Criminal Act provides that “a person who violates section 922(g) of this title and has three previous convictions . . . for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another” is subject to a fifteen-year mandatory minimum sentence. 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1).

         Pertinent to Wilson's case, ACCA defines a “serious drug offense” as “an offense under State law, involving manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute, a controlled substance . . . for which a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or more is prescribed by law.” Id. § 924(e)(2)(A)(ii). A “violent felony, ” meanwhile, is:

         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 the use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another[.]

Id. § 924(e)(2)(B) (emphasis added). In Johnson, the Supreme Court held that the italicized language, ACCA's “residual clause, ” is unconstitutionally vague because it “denies fair notice to defendants and invites arbitrary enforcement by judges.” Johnso ...


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