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Doctor v. United States

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

August 17, 2017

Kareem A. Doctor, Petitioner,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          ORDER

          PATRICK MICHAEL DUFFY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Federal prisoner Kareem Doctor moves to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (ECF No. 86). The Court has thoroughly reviewed the record and finds the motion suitable for disposition without an evidentiary hearing and without a response from the Government. See § 2255(b). For the reasons set forth herein, the Court denies Doctor's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Doctor pled guilty to a one-count indictment that charged him with felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Subsequently, a probation officer prepared a pre-sentence investigation report (“PSR”). The PSR stated Doctor had two prior convictions for possession with intent to distribute cocaine and another for strong-arm robbery. The probation officer found those three convictions constitute predicate offenses and therefore Doctor was subject to the Armed Career Criminal Act's fifteen-year mandatory minimum sentence. See 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1).

         Doctor objected to the PSR. He argued that, after Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), his prior robbery conviction did not constitute a “violent felony” and therefore was not a predicate offense. See 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B). The Court disagreed and, applying the ACCA, sentenced Doctor to the mandatory minimum fifteen years in prison. Doctor appealed, challenging the Court's decision about his robbery conviction. The Fourth Circuit affirmed.

         United States v. Doctor, 842 F.3d 306 (4th Cir. 2016). The Supreme Court denied certiorari. Doctor v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 1831 (2017) (mem).

         Doctor filed his § 2255 motion on August 10, 2017.

         APPLICABLE LAW

         Doctor proceeds under § 2255(a), which provides, in relevant part:

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States . . . may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

         Doctor bears the burden of proving the grounds for collateral attack by a preponderance of the evidence. See Miller v. United States, 261 F.2d 546, 547 (4th Cir. 1958). In deciding a § 2255 motion, the district court need not hold a hearing if “the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief.” § 2255(b).

         The Court applies those standards recognizing that pro se filings are held to a less stringent standard than those drafted by attorneys, Gordon v. Leeke, 574 F.2d 1147, 1151 (4th Cir. 1978), and that it must liberally construe pro se filings to allow the development of a potentially meritorious case, see Hughes v. Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980). The liberal construction requirement, however, does not mean the Court can ignore a clear failure to allege facts that set forth a cognizable claim. See Weller v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir. 1990).

         DISCUSSION

         The ACCA mandates that “a person who violates [18 U.S.C. §] 922(g) . . . and has three previous convictions . . . for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another . . . shall be fined . . . and imprisoned not less than fifteen years.” § 924(e)(1). Doctor appears to be arguing that he does not have the required three “convictions . . . committed on occasions ...


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