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United States v. Lee

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

April 25, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
LAMAR RICHARD LEE, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: September 21, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Newport News. Rebecca Beach Smith, Chief District Judge. (4:12-cr-00105-RBS-LRL-1; 4:14-cv-00148-RBS)

         ARGUED:

          Geremy C. Kamens, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellant.

          Richard Daniel Cooke, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Sean E. Andrussier, Daniel Driscoll, Student, Will Fox, Student, Ryan Weiss, Student, DUKE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW, Durham, North Carolina, for Appellant.

          Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellee.

          Before GREGORY, Chief Judge, and NIEMEYER and HARRIS, Circuit Judges.

         Affirmed by published opinion. Chief Judge Gregory wrote the opinion, in which Judge Niemeyer and Judge Harris joined.

          GREGORY, Chief Judge.

         This Court issued a certificate of appealability ("COA") in this matter to permit Appellant Lamar Richard Lee, a federal prisoner, to challenge the district court's denial of his motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. After holding this case in abeyance pending the Supreme Court's decision in Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017), we now affirm the district court's judgment.

         On March 18, 2013, Lee pled guilty to three counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, cocaine base, and heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C), and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). Prior to sentencing, the U.S. Probation Office prepared a presentence report ("PSR") finding that, because of Lee's 2008 Virginia convictions for unlawful wounding and for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, he qualified for a sentence enhancement as a "career offender" under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines § 4B1.1. Lee's trial counsel made no objections to the sentencing factors in the PSR. On June 14, 2013, the district court sentenced Lee as a career offender and imposed an enhanced sentence of 188 months' imprisonment.

         Lee appealed his sentence, in part to challenge the reasonableness of his sentence. This Court affirmed the sentence, concluding that "the district court accurately calculated the applicable Guidelines range and did not commit procedural error when sentencing Lee." United States v. Lee, 559 F.App'x 251, 252 (4th Cir. 2014). Lee later filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence. Lee asserted that his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective because, during the sentencing hearing, his counsel failed to challenge the district court's determination of his career offender status. Lee specifically argued that his unlawful wounding conviction did not qualify as a "crime of violence" under § 4B1.2 of the Guidelines. The district court denied Lee's ...


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