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Lloyd v. United States

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division

October 3, 2016

Robert Lamont Lloyd, Petitioner,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          ORDER

          PATRICK MICHAEL DUFFY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Robert Lamont Lloyd, a federal prisoner, moves to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (ECF No. 45). Lloyd also asks to be released on bond pending this Court's disposition of his § 2255 motion (ECF No. 52). The United States (“Government”) has filed a motion to stay proceedings (ECF No. 51). For the reasons stated herein, the Court denies the Government's motion and Lloyd's release request but nevertheless stays this matter.

         BACKGROUND

         In 2005, Lloyd pled guilty to possession of a firearm after a felony conviction and to possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. See 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1); 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). When Lloyd pled guilty, his criminal history included convictions in South Carolina state court for a strong-arm robbery, two second-degree burglaries, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. At the sentencing later that year, this Court determined that those prior convictions triggered a mandatory fifteen-year minimum sentence on the gun charge under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) and an increased recommended sentencing range on both charges under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Based on those determinations, the Court sentenced Lloyd to 188 months in prison on each count, to be served concurrently. Lloyd did not appeal.

         Lloyd filed his § 2255 motion on April 26, 2016. After being ordered to file a response, the Government moved for a stay on July 12. On July 25, Lloyd filed a response in opposition to the Government's motion, in which he also asked to be released on bond. The Government filed a reply in support of its stay motion on August 2. Accordingly, these matters are now ripe for consideration.

         DISCUSSION

         Although the two motions under consideration do not directly involve the merits of Lloyd's § 2255 claims, an overview of them provides needed context. Under the ACCA, a defendant must be sentenced to at least fifteen years in prison if he has at least “three previous convictions . . . for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). Similarly, under the Sentencing Guidelines' career-offender provision, a defendant's recommended sentencing range may increase if-

(1) the defendant was at least eighteen years old at the time the defendant committed the instant offense of conviction; (2) the instant offense of conviction is a felony that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense; and (3) the defendant has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense.

         U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(a). Lloyd contends he does not have enough qualifying prior felony convictions to trigger either enhancement. Specifically, he contends his robbery and burglary convictions are not “violent felonies” under the ACCA or “crimes of violence” under the Guidelines.

         The ACCA's definition of “violent felony” includes any crime, punishable by more than a year in prison, 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.

18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B) (emphasis added). The career-offender guideline provides a materially identical definition of “crime of violence.” See U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a). The language in both provisions that begins with “or otherwise involves” is commonly called the “residual clause.” See, e.g., In re Hubbard, 825 F.3d 225, 229 (4th Cir. 2016); United States v. Martin, 753 F.3d 485, 488 (4th Cir. 2014). Last year, the Supreme Court declared the ACCA's residual clause unconstitutionally vague, Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 2563 (2015), and this year, it held Johnson applies retroactively to sentences enhanced using that clause, see Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257, 1265 (2016).

         Lloyd argues that under Johnson, his robbery conviction no longer counts as an ACCA predicate offense because the now-invalid residual clause is the only part of the violent-felony definition into which his robbery conviction could fit. Lloyd makes the same argument regarding his career-offender enhancement, and he contends that Johnson's ...


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