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Williams v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Statesville Division

August 16, 2017

RODERICK LAMAR WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ORDER

          RICHARD L. VOORHEES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS MATTER is before the Court upon Petitioner Roderick Lamar Williams's pro se Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. No. 1), and “Motion to Supplement Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 15” (Doc. No. 7). Also before the Court is the Government's Motion to Dismiss Williams's § 2255 Motion to Vacate. (Doc. No. 9.)

         I. BACKGROUND

         Williams was indicted on June 29, 2004, and charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute powder and crack cocaine (Count One), 21 U.S.C. § 846; possession with intent to distribute cocaine (Count Six), 21 U.S.C. § 841; and two counts of possession of a firearm during and in relation to a drug-trafficking offense (Counts Seven and Nine), 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Fourth Superseding Indict., Doc. No. 340.[1] A jury convicted Williams on all counts. Verdict, Doc. 364.

         In Williams's presentence report (“PSR”), the probation officer grouped Counts One and Six under United States Sentencing Guideline (“U.S.S.G.”) § 3D1.2(d), and calculated a base offense level of 38 for those two counts, based on a drug quantity of more than 1.5 kilograms of crack cocaine, U.S.S.G. §2D1.1. PSR, Doc. 908 ¶¶ 52-53 (applying the 2004 U.S.S.G. Manual). The probation officer then applied the cross-reference to the murder guideline, U.S.S.G. § 2A1.1, because a victim was killed as part of Williams's offense conduct. Id. at ¶ 55. This cross-reference resulted in an adjusted offense level of 43. Id. at ¶ 59.

         According to the PSR, Williams also qualified as a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, based on his prior convictions for assault on a government official. PSR, Doc. No. 908 ¶ 60. The highest offense level provided under § 4B1.1, however, is 37. See U.S.S.G. 4B1.1(b). Because the murder offense level was higher (43), the probation officer applied it, rather than the career offender guideline, to calculate Williams's sentencing guideline range. PSR, ¶ 60.[2]

         Based on a total offense level of 43 and a criminal-history category of VI, the probation officer calculated a guidelines term of life in prison for Counts One and Six. Id. at ¶ 119. Additionally, Williams faced a mandatory consecutive term of not less than five years in prison for the first § 924(c) firearm offense (Count Seven) and a consecutive term of not less than 25 years in prison for the second § 924(c) offense (Count Nine). Id.

         This Court sentenced Williams to concurrent life terms on the drug-trafficking counts, to a consecutive term of five years in prison for Count Seven and a consecutive term of 25 years in prison for Count Nine. Judgment, Doc. 641. Williams's judgment was affirmed on appeal. United States v. Williams, 225 F. App'x 151 (4th Cir. 2007) (unpublished).

         Williams filed a timely motion to vacate, which this Court dismissed and denied on October 9, 2012. Order, Williams v. United States, No. 5:08-cv-00041-RLV (W.D.N.C Oct. 9. 2012), Doc. No. 55. Williams subsequently filed several unauthorized successive motions to vacate, all of which were dismissed.[3]

         On June 23, 2016, Williams sought authorization to file a successive motion to vacate in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, contending that under the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), made retroactive to cases on collateral review, Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257 (2016), he no longer qualifies as a career offender under the federal sentencing guidelines and his life-sentences for Counts One and Six, therefore, violate the Due Process Clause. (Pet'r's §§ 2244, 2255(h) Mot. 4, Doc. No. 2-1.) The Fourth Circuit granted Williams's motion and authorized him to file a successive § 2255 motion based on Johnson. (4th Cir. Order, Doc. No. 2.)

         Williams filed the instant § 2255 Motion to Vacate, raising the same claim as he had in the Fourth Circuit. (Pet. 4, Doc. No. 1.) The Court ordered the Government to respond (Doc. No. 5), but before it could do so, Williams filed a motion to supplement his § 2255 Motion to Vacate (Doc. No. 7). Thereafter, the Court ordered the Government to address the timeliness of Williams's motion to supplement in its response to Williams's Motion to Vacate. (Doc. No. 8.)

         The Government subsequently filed a motion to dismiss Williams's Motion to Vacate. (Doc. No. 9.) Pursuant to Roseboro v. Garrison, 528 F.2d 309 (4th Cir. 1975), the Court gave Williams the opportunity to respond to the Government's motion (Doc. No. 10), and Williams did so on January 9, 2017 (Doc. No. 11).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the dismissal of an action based upon a “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To state a viable claim for relief under § 2255, a petitioner must prove that: (1) the sentence imposed “violat[ed] . . . the Constitution or laws of the United States;” (2) “the court was without jurisdiction to impose such a sentence;” or (3) “the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). After examining the record in this matter, the Court finds that ...


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