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Hallman v. United States

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

November 27, 2018

Nathaniel Hallman, Movant,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Margaret B. Seymour Senior United States District Judge

         This matter is before the court on Movant Nathaniel Hallman's motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. ECF No. 206.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 6, 2005, a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging Movant with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2) (Count One); and possession with intent to distribute a quantity of marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(D) (Count Two).[1] ECF No. 1. On August 2, 2006, a federal grand jury returned a three-count superseding indictment that, in addition to the two counts charged in the original indictment, charged intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B) (Count Three). ECF No. 77.

         On October 2, 2006, the court held a plea hearing in accordance with Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. ECF No. 94. At the hearing, Movant pleaded guilty pursuant to a written plea agreement to Counts One and Three of the superseding indictment. ECF Nos. 93, 94.[2] On March 29, 2007, the court sentenced Movant. ECF No. 109. On Count One, Movant faced a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years. See 18 U.S.C. § 942(a)(2). On Count Three, Movant faced a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life. See 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B). Movant's guidelines range was 262 to 327 months under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. At sentencing, the Government withdrew its § 851 enhancement based on Movant's prior felony drug conviction, thereby reducing the sentencing guidelines range to 188 to 235 months of imprisonment. ECF Nos. 111, 113. In applying the United States Sentencing Guidelines, the court sentenced Movant as a “Career Offender” pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, based on his prior convictions in South Carolina state court for possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute and for voluntary manslaughter. ECF No. 111 at 6-7. The court sentenced Movant to a term of imprisonment of 188 months, which consisted of 120 months as to Count One and 188 months as to Count Three, such terms to run concurrently. ECF No. 112. Judgment was entered on April 3, 2007. Id. Movant did not file an appeal. On May 5, 2011, the court, pursuant to the Government's Rule 35(b) motion, reduced Movant's sentence to a term of imprisonment of 151 months, which consisted of 120 months as to Count One and 151 months as to Count Three, such terms to run concurrently. ECF No. 169.[3]

         On June 22, 2016, the court issued an order appointing the Federal Public Defender to represent Movant with respect to reviewing this action for potential claims arising from Johnson v. United States, 576 U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), and, if appropriate, handling matters related to the filing of a Johnson motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. ECF No. 203. Movant's attorney entered her appearance in this matter on June 24, 2016. ECF No. 208. Upon authorization from the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Movant filed a successive § 2255 motion the same day. ECF No. 206. In the motion, Movant seeks the benefit of Johnson, in which the Supreme Court held that the “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act is unconstitutionally vague. He argues that Johnson applies with equal force to the United States Sentencing Guidelines under which he was sentenced, and that his prior conviction for voluntary manslaughter does not qualify as a predicate offense under the “residual clause” of U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a)(2). ECF No. 206 at 1. The Government filed a motion for summary judgment on July 25, 2016, ECF Nos. 209, 210, and Movant filed a reply on August 22, 2016, ECF No. 215.

         It appears from the Federal Bureau of Prisons website that Movant was subsequently released from custody on February 10, 2017. However, as part of his sentence, Movant is subject to three and four years of supervised release, to run concurrently. ECF Nos. 112, 169; see ECF No. 206 at 2. Accordingly, Movant remains in custody for the purpose of his § 2255 motion. Maleng v. Cook, 490 U.S. 488, 491 (1989); United States v. Pregent, 190 F.3d 279, 283 (4th Cir. 1999).

         II. DISCUSSION

         In Johnson, the Supreme Court addressed the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984 (ACCA), which mandates an enhanced sentence for an offender convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm if the offender has three or more convictions for a serious drug offense or violent felony. Under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B), the term “violent felony” means:

any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year . . . that-
(i) has 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.

         In Johnson, the Court determined that the language “or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another, ” known as the residual clause, is unconstitutionally vague.

         Movant received an enhanced sentence not under the ACCA, but under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which define ...


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