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United States v. Williams

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division

March 6, 2019

United States of America,
v.
Shon Connor Williams, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CAMERON MCGOWAN CURRIE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant filed a pro se motion in this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.[1] ECF No. 598. The Federal Public Defender thereafter filed a supplemental motion, challenging Defendant's conviction for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). ECF No. 603. The Government filed a response in opposition and a motion for summary judgment. ECF Nos. 630, 631. Defendant, though counsel, filed a response in opposition to the Government's motion. ECF No. 637.

         I. Background

         On July 14, 1999, Defendant was charged with the following counts: conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(b)(3); conspiracy to use, carry and brandish firearms during and in relation to, and possess firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence, specifically Hobbs Act Robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924 (o); four counts of Hobbs Act Robbery, in violation of § 1951; and four counts of knowingly using, carrying, brandishing, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a Hobbs Act Robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). ECF No. 1 (Counts 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, and 15).

         On November 12, 1999, Defendant pled guilty to Counts 13 and 15 of the Indictment: two counts of § 924(c) brandishing in relation to Hobbs Act Robbery, one of which took place on April 21, 1999, and the other on April 29, 1999. ECF No. 213. Judgment was entered on April 7, 2000. ECF No. 277. Defendant was sentenced to a total term of 360 months, consisting of 60 months as to Count 13 and 300 months as to Count 15, consecutive. Id. A reduction in sentence was granted pursuant to Rule 35(b) on November 13, 2001, reducing Defendant's total term to 348 months: 60 months as to Count 13 and 288 months as to Count 15, consecutive. ECF No. 372. Defendant appealed his sentence and conviction, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed. ECF No. 377. A second Rule 35(b) reduction was granted on November 18, 2008, reducing Defendant's total sentence to 288 months, 60 months on Count 13 and 228 months on Count 15. ECF No. 435.

         II. 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)

         Title 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) provides that a defendant shall be subject to a consecutive sentence if he or she, “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).[2]

         A “drug trafficking crime” for purposes of § 924(c) means “any felony punishable under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (21 U.S.C. 951 et seq.), or chapter 705 of title 46.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(2). The statute defines a “crime of violence” as:

         an offense that is a felony and -

(A) has an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, 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.[3]

18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3).

         III. Discussion

         Defendant argues the substantive Hobbs Act Robberies cannot serve as predicates for his § 924(c) convictions, as they are not “crimes of violence” as defined in § 924(c)(3)(A) or (B). ECF Nos. 598, 603. He also, through his attorney, attempts to argue his plea was invalid because he admitted guilt pursuant to the residual clause of § 924(c), which is void under Johnson. ECF No. 603. The Government has moved for summary judgment, arguing Defendant's claim was waived, is untimely, and fails on the merits as Hobbs Act Robbery is categorically a crime of violence under the force clause. ECF No. 630. Defendant ...


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