Argued: January 30, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Tennessee at Memphis. No. 2:17-cr-20218-1-Sheryl
H. Lipman, District Judge.
G. Ritz, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Memphis,
Tennessee, for Appellant.
Peter Oh, FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Memphis, Tennessee, for
G. Ritz, Bryce Phillips, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE,
Memphis, Tennessee, for Appellant.
Peter Oh, FEDERAL PUBLIC
DEFENDER, Memphis, Tennessee, for Appellee.
Before: SILER, COOK, and BUSH, Circuit Judges.
United States appeals a 46-month sentence imposed on Charles
Eason by the Western District of Tennessee following his
guilty plea to being a felon in possession of a firearm, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). The United States
argues the district court erred in finding that Eason was not
an armed career criminal, given his five prior Tennessee
convictions for promotion of methamphetamine manufacture.
See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-433. Since these
convictions are serious drug offenses under the Armed Career
Criminal Act (ACCA), we REVERSE Eason's
sentence and REMAND for resentencing.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
2017, Eason pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of
a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). The
default statutory range for such a violation is zero to 10
years' imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2). However,
under the ACCA, a defendant convicted under § 922(g) who
has three prior convictions for violent felonies or serious
drug offenses is subject to an enhanced mandatory minimum
sentence of 180 months. 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1).
Pre-Sentence Report recommended that Eason be sentenced under
the ACCA due to his five prior Tennessee felony convictions
for promotion of methamphetamine manufacture. Eason objected.
He pointed out that an ACCA "serious drug offense"
is defined, in relevant part, as "an offense under State
law, involving manufacturing, distributing, or possessing
with intent to manufacture or distribute, a controlled
substance . . . ." 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(A)(ii).
Eason argued that, under the Tennessee statute, his prior
offenses could have been based on no more than the purchase
of an ingredient that can be used to produce methamphetamine
with reckless disregard of its intended use. This, he argued,
was too attenuated from the manufacture of methamphetamine to
involve it for ACCA purposes.
government countered, and continues to argue, that the
Tennessee statute "involves" the manufacture of
methamphetamine because it targets those who gather the
necessary ingredients. And under the ACCA's definition of
serious drug offense, there is no explicit mens rea
requirement for the underlying state crimes-rather, the ACCA
requires only that the predicate offenses involve certain
activities related to controlled substances.
district court agreed with Eason. It explained that, while
"involving" is an expansive term under the ACCA,
purchasing an ingredient with reckless disregard of its
intended use does not relate or connect closely enough with
manufacturing so as to involve it. Without the ACCA