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United States v. Crawford

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

March 14, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CHRISTOPHER E. CRAWFORD

          HORNSBY JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant Christopher E. Crawford ("Crawford") moves to vacate his conviction under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. [Record Document 131]. Because Crawford's motion was filed more than a year after his conviction became final and because the void-for-vagueness holding of Johnson v. United States is inapplicable to his case, his motion is DENIED.

         Facts

         Crawford was charged with variety of federal offenses related to his role in a drug conspiracy. [Record Document 9]. He ultimately pled guilty on January 24, 2007 to Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. [Record Document 39]. On May 3, 2007, he was sentenced to 180 months imprisonment. [Record Document 65]. He did not file a direct appeal. On June 22, 2016, Crawford filed the instant motion. [Record Document 131].

         Law and Analysis

         A motion to vacate under § 2255 must be filed within one year of the latest of:

(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final;
(2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States is removed, if the movant was prevented from making a motion by such governmental action;
(3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or
(4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim or claims presented could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(f) (2012). If a defendant does not appeal a judgment of conviction, the judgment becomes final fourteen days after it is entered. United States v. Morgan, 845 F.3d 664, 666 n.l (5th Or. 2017) (citing Fed. R. App. P. 4(b); Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 527 (2003)). Crawford's one-year limitation period thus commenced on May 18, 2007 following the expiration of the delay for appealing his conviction. [Record Document 66].

         Crawford argues that his motion is timely under § 2255(f)(3) because he filed it within one year of the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States. 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). [Record Document 132 at 1-2]. The Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA") increases sentences for firearm possession when an offender has three previous convictions for "violent felonies," which include felonies "involving] conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another." 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1), (e)(2)(B)(ii) (2012). In Johnson, the Supreme Court held that this clause-known as the residual clause-was unconstitutionally vague. 135 S.Ct. at 2557. On April 18, 2016, the Supreme Court held that Johnson's rule was retroactive to cases on collateral review. Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257, 1265 (2016). Crawford filed the instant petition on June 22, 2016. [Record Document 760 at 13]. Therefore, if Welch and Johnson apply to Crawford, then his motion to vacate is timely.

         When sentencing Crawford, this Court applied § 4B1.1 of the Sentencing Guidelines, a provision that enhances the sentences for career criminals. [Record Documents 66 at 1, 104 at 8, and 130 at 1]. Under the version of the career criminal guideline in effect at the time of Crawford's sentencing, a prior conviction qualified for the enhancement if it "involve [d] conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another." U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a)(2) (2006 ed.). Although this language is identical to that ruled unconstitutional in Johnson, the Supreme Court has clearly held that "the Guidelines are not subject to a vagueness challenge under the Due Process Clause. The residual clause in § 4B1.2(a)(2) is therefore not void for vagueness."[1]Beckles v. United States,137 S.Ct. 886, ...


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