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United States v. Quarles

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

December 12, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Jesse James Quarles, Defendant.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         This matter is before the court pursuant to Defendant Jesse James Quarles' (“Defendant”) Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 57). For the reasons set forth below, the court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration (ECF No. 57).

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On July 8, 2014, Defendant was indicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm. (ECF No. 2.) On September 19, 2014, Defendant and the Government entered into a plea agreement in which Defendant agreed to plead guilty to the indicted charge. (ECF No. 28.) On October 21, 2014, Defendant entered a guilty plea before the court. (ECF No. 32.)

         A Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) was then prepared by the U.S. Probation Office. (ECF No. 35.) The PSR determined that Defendant was an armed career criminal based on three prior convictions for second-degree burglary. (Id. at ¶ 39.) Defendant's predicate convictions for second-degree burglary, along with his other prior convictions, produced a criminal history score of 23 points, resulting in a level 6 criminal history category. (Id. at ¶ 51, 52.) His base offense level was 14, which was increased by four additional levels because he possessed the firearm in connection with another felony offense. (Id. at ¶¶ 67, 68.)

         Because Defendant had at least three prior convictions for violent felonies, making him an armed career criminal within the meaning of U.S.S.G. § 4B1.4, his offense level became 34. (Id. at ¶ 73.) This was reduced by three levels based on acceptance of responsibility. (Id. at ¶¶ 74, 75.) Because Defendant was an armed career criminal, under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) he was subject to a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years. 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). His guideline range was 188 to 235 months. (Id. at ¶ 96.)

         A sentencing hearing was held on April 15, 2015. (ECF No. 44.) Prior to the hearing, Defendant filed objections to the PSR challenging the convictions detailed in paragraph 39 of the PSR. (ECF No. 37.) After hearing arguments from Defendant and the Government regarding the objections and memoranda, the court sentenced Defendant to 180 months of imprisonment. (ECF No. 45.) The court entered judgement on April 17, 2015. (ECF No. 45.) Defendant did not make any direct appeal of the judgment. (ECF No. 52 at 3.)

         On February 19, 2016, Defendant filed a Section 2255 motion, asserting that he was improperly charged as a career criminal. (ECF No. 49.) Specifically, Defendant contends that his three prior burglary convictions are not violent felonies. (Id. at 3.)

         On April 5, 2016, the Government filed a response in opposition to Defendant's Motion, asserting that Defendant's prior second-degree burglary convictions qualify as violent felonies under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), and Defendant was correctly sentenced pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). (ECF No. 52.)

         On May 16, 2016, Defendant filed a reply to the Government's Response, adding the argument that the 2016 amendment to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a)(2) removes burglary of a dwelling from the definition of a crime of violence, and contends that it is unjust to prevent him from the relief that other defendants will receive in the future.[1] (ECF No. 54 at 3.)

         On November 2, 2017, the court held, applying the modified categorical approach, that Defendant's three second-degree burglary convictions do qualify as the required predicate offenses of violence under the career offender guidelines. (ECF No. 55.) On November 20, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion for Reconsideration stating that (1) the court based its denial on reasoning that was inconsistent with the Supreme Court and circuit holdings and (2) Defendant is entitled to vacatur of the enhanced term the court imposed and resentencing. (ECF No. 57.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), a court may “alter or amend the judgment if the movant shows either (1) an intervening change in the controlling law, (2) new evidence that was not available at trial, or (3) that there has been a clear error of law or a manifest injustice.” Robinson v. Wix Filtration Corp., 599 F.3d 403, 407 (4th Cir. 2010) (citation omitted). It is the moving party's burden to establish one of these three grounds in order to obtain relief under this rule. Loren Data Corp. v. GXS, Inc., 501 Fed. App'x 275, 285 (4th Cir. 2012). The decision whether to reconsider an order pursuant to this rule is within the discretion of the district court. See Hughes v. Bedsole, 48 F.3d 1376, 1382 (4th Cir. 1995).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. The Armed ...


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