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Lynn v. United States

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

September 7, 2017

RICKY EUGENE LYNN, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ORDER

          Frank D. Whitney, Chief United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court upon Petitioner Ricky Eugene Lynn's Amended Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. No. 1.)

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 24, 2012, Lynn entered a straight up guilty plea to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(b)(1)(A) (Count One), and using a communication facility for controlled substance distribution, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(b) (Count Two). Accept. & Entry of Plea, Doc. No. 110.[1] The Court sentenced Lynn to 189 months imprisonment in Count One and to a concurrent 48-month term in Count Two. J., Doc. No. 216. Judgment was entered on October 8, 2013. Id.

         Lynn did not file a direct appeal, but in 2015, he successfully moved to reduce his sentence under U.S.S.G. Amendment 782. Doc. No. 272. The Court reduced Lynn's sentence in Count One to 158 months' imprisonment. Doc. No. 296.

         On May 3, 2016, the Clerk of Court received a letter from Lynn asking that his sentence be reviewed to determine if he is eligible for a sentence reduction in light of the United States Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015); the letter was docketed in Lynn's criminal case. Doc. No. 300. On July 14, 2016, Lynn filed a document titled, “Petitioner's 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(3) Successor Motion, Pursuant to United States Supreme Court: Richard Mathis v. United States, 579 U.S. No. 15-6092 S.Ct. Supplement to Johnson v. United States, (2015), ” and the Clerk of Court opened the instant civil action. (Doc. No. 1.)

         Thereafter, this Court entered an Order directing the Clerk to file Lynn's May 3, 2016 Letter in this civil action and docket it as a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Order, Doc. No. 2.) The Court also directed the Clerk to docket Lynn's “28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(3) Successor Motion, etc.” as an Amended Motion to Vacate.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings in the United States District Court, sentencing courts are directed to examine motions to vacate, along with “any attached exhibits and the record of prior proceedings” in order to determine whether a petitioner is entitled to any relief. If it plainly appears that the petitioner is not entitled to relief, the court must dismiss the motion. See id. After conducting its initial review, the Court finds that the claims presented in the Motion to Vacate can be resolved based on the record and governing case law. See Raines v. United States, 423 F.2d 526, 529 (4th Cir. 1970).

         III. DISCUSSION

         In Johnson v. United States, made retroactive on collateral review by Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257 (2016), the Supreme Court held that the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), is unconstitutionally vague under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. 135 S.Ct. at 2558. The ACCA provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for a defendant convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), if the defendant has at least three prior convictions for serious drug offenses or violent felonies. See § 924(e)(1). “Violent felony” is defined in the ACCA as “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 use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” § 924(e)(2)(B) (emphasis added).

         The italicized closing words of § 924(e)(2)(B) constitute the ACCA's residual clause. Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2556. Thus, a defendant who was sentenced under the ACCA to a mandatory minimum term in prison based on a prior conviction that satisfies only the residual clause of the ACCA's “violent felony” definition is entitled to relief from his sentence.

         Lynn was not convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of § 922(g). Thus, his sentences were not enhanced under the ACCA, and Johnson does not apply to him.

         Any assertion by Lynn that the holding in Johnson applies equally to sentencing enhancements under §§ 4B1.1 and 4B1.2, the career offender sections of the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“U.S.S.G.”), is foreclosed by the Supreme Court's decision in Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017). In Beckles, the Supreme Court held that the advisory federal Sentencing Guidelines are not subject to a vagueness challenge under the ...


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