United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
TERRENCE W. BOYLE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause comes before the Court on petitioner's motion to
vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255. [DE 232]. The stay previously entered in this
matter has been lifted, and the Court has permitted the
parties to file supplemental briefing. For the reasons that
follow, petitioner's § 2255 motion is DENIED.
Morales, is currently serving a sentence of 147 months'
imprisonment after pleading guilty to counts one and three of
an eight-count indictment charging Morales and others with
robbery and firearm offenses. Morales pleaded guilty to
conspiracy to rob businesses engaged in interstate commerce
(count one), 18 U.S.C. § 1951(b), and using and carrying
a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and
aiding and abetting (count three), 18 U.S.C. §§
924(c)(1)(A) and 2. [DE 167].
filed a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 arguing that
his 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) conviction is unconstitutional in
light of the Supreme Court's holding in Johnson v.
United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). In
Johnson, the Supreme Court held that the residual
clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act's definition of a
crime of violence is unconstitutionally vague. Id.
at 2563; 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2).
motion by the government, the case was stayed on August 19,
2016, to await decisions by the Fourth Circuit in United
States v. Walker, 934 F.3d 375 (4th Cir. 2019), and
United States v. Simms, 914 F.3d 229 (4th Cir.
2019). Although Simms was decided on January 24,
2019, the mandate in Simms was stayed to await the
Supreme Court's decision in United States v.
Davis, 13 9 S.Ct. 2319 (2019). Following the Supreme
Court's decision in Davis and the Fourth
Circuit's mandate in Simms, this Court sua
sponte lifted the stay in this matter and ordered
additional briefing. In this posture, the § 2255 motion
is ripe for adjudication.
motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 will be granted where the
petitioner has shown that his sentence was imposed in
violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States,
that the court was without jurisdiction to impose the
sentence, that the sentence was in excess of the maximum
sentence authorized by law, or that it is otherwise subject
to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).
to 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), a defendant shall be subject to a
consecutive sehtence'if he "during and in relation
to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime ... for
which the person may be prosecuted in a court of the United
States, uses or carries a firearm or who, in furtherance of
any such crime, possesses a firearm ...." 18 U.S.C.
§ 924(c)(1)(A). The predicate offense for Morales's
conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) in count three is
his interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act robbery)
charge in count two. [DE 1].
924(c) defines a crime of violence as a felony offense that
(A) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened
use of physical force against the person or property of
another [the force clause], or
(B) that by its nature, involves a substantial risk that
physical force against the person or property of another may
be used in the course of committing the offense [the residual
18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3)(A)-(B). Although, like the
ACCA's residual clause, the residual clause of §
924(c)(3) is now invalid, Davis, 139 S.Ct. at 2336,
Hobbs Act robbery remains a crime of violence under the force
clause of § 924(c)(3)(A). United States v.
Mathis, 932 F.3d 242, 266 (4th Cir. 2019). That the
Hobbs Act robbery charge in count two supporting
Morales's § 924(c) conviction was dismissed as part
of Morales's plea agreement is of no moment. See
United States v. Carter, 300 F.3d 415, 425 (4th Cir.
2002); United States v. Link, 214 F.Supp. 3d 506,
518 (E.D. Va. 2016). Accordingly, Morales' § 924(c)
conviction stands as he has a proper crime of violence
predicate to support the conviction.
pro se motion for reduction in sentence is
duplicative of his § 2255 motion and is dismissed. As
the Court has lifted the stay and decided his § 2255
motion on the merits, ...