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Brooks v. United States

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

May 21, 2019

Jaquan Brooks, Petitioner,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          ORDER

          R. Bryan Harwell United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner's [ECF No. 435] motion to vacate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Petitioner, through counsel, moves to vacate his sentence arguing that his conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) is no longer valid following Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015) and Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257 (2016). Petitioner's argument is premised on the notion that Hobbs Act robbery under 18 U.S.C. § 1951 fails to qualify as a predicate crime of violence for a § 924(c) conviction post-Johnson and Welch.

         On June 23, 2016, the government filed a response and motion for summary judgment [ECF Nos. 445, 446] arguing Petitioner's motion to vacate is untimely and that Hobbs Act robbery continues to qualify as a predicate crime of violence for a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment, dismisses Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, and dismisses this case with prejudice.[1]

         Procedural History

         On January 25, 2011, Petitioner was indicted, along with several co-defendants, in an eighteen count indictment. Petitioner was named as a defendant in counts 1, 6-7, 14-15, and 18. Count 1 alleged a conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a). Counts 6-7 alleged that Petitioner committed two Hobbs Act robberies in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) that occurred on June 25, 2010. Counts 14 - 15 alleged the Petitioner used or carried a firearm during the Hobbs Act robberies alleged in counts 6-7 in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Count 18 alleged that Petitioner was a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).

         On July 28, 2011, Petitioner pled guilty to Counts 6 and 14 pursuant to a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement that provided for a stipulated sentence of 19 years. The plea agreement involved the dismissal of counts 1, 7, 15, and 18. The presentence investigation report (“PSR”) prepared by the U.S. Probation Office determined that, as to count 6, Petitioner's advisory guideline range was 30 to 37 months. As to count 14, which involved the discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), Petitioner's statutory mandatory minimum sentence was 10 years.

         On October 14, 2011, Petitioner was sentenced to a term of 228 months or 19 years as provided in the Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement. The judgment was filed on October 14, 2011. Petitioner timely appealed his conviction and sentence, which was affirmed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on June 12, 2012. The Mandate and Judgment were issued on July 5, 2012.

         Petitioner, through counsel, filed the instant motion to vacate pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on June 17, 2016.

         Applicable Law

         Prisoners in federal custody may attack the validity of their sentences pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. In order to move the court to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence under § 2255, a petitioner must prove that one of the following occurred: (1) a sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States; (2) the court was without jurisdiction to impose such a sentence; (3) the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law; or (4) the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). “The writ of habeas corpus and its federal counterpart, 28 U.S.C. § 2255, ‘will not be allowed to do service for an appeal.' (internal citation omitted) For this reason, nonconstitutional claims that could have been raised on appeal, but were not, may not be asserted in collateral proceedings. (internal citations omitted) Even those nonconstitutional claims that could not have been asserted on direct appeal can be raised on collateral review only if the alleged error constituted ‘a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice'”. Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, n. 10 (1976); see also United States v. Boyd, No. 02-6242, 2002 WL 1932522, at *1 (4th Cir Aug. 22, 2002) (“Non-constitutional claims that could have been raised on direct appeal . . . may not be raised in a collateral proceeding under § 2255.”).

         Legal Standard for Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment “should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2) (2009). The movant has the burden of proving that summary judgment is appropriate. Once the movant makes the showing, however, the opposing party must respond to the motion with "specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)(2).

         When no genuine issue of any material fact exists, summary judgment is appropriate. See Shealy v. Winston, 929 F.2d 1009, 1011 (4th Cir. 1991). The facts and inferences to be drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. However, "the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986).

         "[O]nce the moving party has met [its] burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with some evidence beyond the mere allegations contained in the pleadings to show that there is a genuine issue for trial." Baber v. Hospital Corp. of Am., 977 F.2d 872, 874-75 (4th Cir. 1992). The nonmoving party may not rely on beliefs, conjecture, speculation, or conclusory allegations to defeat a motion for summary judgment. See Id. Rather, the nonmoving party is required to submit evidence of specific facts by way of affidavits, depositions, ...


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