United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina
TERRENCE W. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on petitioner's motion
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The government has moved
to dismiss the petition, and the matter is ripe for ruling.
For the reasons discussed below, the government's motion
[DE 133] is granted.
November 16, 2010, petitioner, Mr. Woodard, pleaded guilty
pursuant to a plea agreement to possession with intent to
distribute marijuana and MDMA in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1) and possession of a firearm in furtherance
of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
924(c). Mr. Woodard was sentenced to a total term of
imprisonment of 180 months on March 31, 2011. Mr. Woodard
filed a direct appeal, and the court of appeals affirmed his
conviction and dismissed the appeal of his sentence by
opinion entered October 18, 2011.
Woodard's postconviction history is noted more fully in
the Court's order entered September 1, 2015, [DE 103]
which is incorporated herein by reference. As is relevant to
the currently pending motions, Mr. Woodard received
permission from the court of appeals to file a second or
successive § 2255 motion on June 20, 2016, in order to
raise a claim under Johnson v. United States, 135
S.Ct. 2551 (2015). On November 30, 2016, the Court stayed
this matter pending the Supreme Court's decision in
Beckles v. United States, No. 15-8544. After the
opinion in Beckles was handed down, the government
moved to lift the stay and filed the instant motion to
dismiss. Mr. Woodward, who is represented by counsel, did not
respond to the motion to dismiss and the time for doing so
§ 2255 motion, Mr. Woodard argues that he is no longer a
career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 in light of
Johnson. In Johnson, the Supreme Court
addressed the constitutionality of the residual clause of the
Armed Career Criminal Act's violent felony definition, which
defines a violent felony to include one which "otherwise
involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of
physical injury to another." 135 S.Ct. 2557. The Supreme
Court held that the residual clause is unconstitutionally
vague and that to increase a defendant's sentence under
that clause denies the defendant due process of law. Mat
2557. In Welch v. United States, the Supreme Court
held that Johnson announced a substantive rule that
applies retroactively on collateral review. 136 S.Ct. 1257
and in contrast to the ACCA, the Supreme Court held in
Beckles that the United States Sentencing Guidelines
are not subject to vagueness challenges under the Due Process
Clause. Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886, 894
(2017) ("Because they merely guide the district
courts' discretion, the Guidelines are not amenable to a
vagueness challenge."). Beckles specifically
forecloses the argument raised by Mr. Woodard, namely that
the rule announced in Johnson invalidated U.S.S.G.
§ 4Bl.2(a)'s residual clause. Id. at 897.
Accordingly, the Court finds that Mr. Woodard has failed to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted and the
government's motion to dismiss is properly allowed.
certificate of appealability shall not issue absent "a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right." 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2) (2000). A petitioner
satisfies this standard by demonstrating that reasonable
jurists would find that an assessment of the constitutional
claims is debatable and that any dispositive procedural
ruling dismissing such claims is likewise debatable.
Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 336-38 (2003);
Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000);
Rose v. Lee, 252 F.3d 676, 683-84 (4th Cir. 2001).
As reasonable jurists would not find this Court's
dismissal of Mr. Woodard's § 2255 motion debatable,
a certificate of appealability is DENIED.
foregoing reasons, the government's motion to dismiss [DE
133] is GRANTED and petitioner's motion pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255 [DE 120] is DISMISSED. A certificate of
appealability is DENIED.