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Harris v. United States

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

August 2, 2019

Jimmie Harris, Movant,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MARGARET B. SEYMOUR SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Jimmie Harris (“Movant”) is a federal inmate currently housed at USP Coleman I in Coleman, Florida. On July 21, 2016, Movant, originally proceeding without counsel[1], filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence. ECF No. 1721. This matter is before the court on a motion to dismiss filed by Respondent United States of America (the “government”) on September 8, 2016. ECF No. 1729. Movant filed a response to the government's motion on December 7, 2016. ECF No. 1786.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On November 12, 2014, a federal grand jury returned an eleven-Count Fourth Superseding Indictment against Movant and his co-conspirators. The Superseding Indictment charged Movant with: conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (Count 1); conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities to commit murder for hire in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1958(a) and (b) (Count 5); use of interstate commerce facilities in commission of a murder for hire in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1958 and 2 (Count 6); obstruction of justice (attempted murder of a witness to prevent testimony) in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1512(a)(1)(A) and 2 (Count 8); obstruction of justice (attempted murder of a witness in retaliation for providing information to law enforcement) in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1513(a)(1)(B) and 2 (Count 9); conspiracy to possess firearms in relation to a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(i) and (O) (Count 10); and use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(iii) and 2 (Count 11). ECF No. 1247. On March 31, 2015, Movant pleaded guilty to Counts 8 and 11 pursuant to a plea agreement. ECF No. 1429. On October 13, 2015, the Honorable Sol Blatt, Jr. sentenced Movant to a total of 550 months imprisonment, with 5 years of supervised release to follow. ECF No. 1587. Movant received a sentence enhancement pursuant to § 924(c)(3)(B), which enhances sentences for defendants who commit violent felonies. Movant did not appeal his sentence or conviction.

         Movant's § 2255 motion asserts: the offense for which Movant was convicted no longer qualifies as a crime of violence pursuant to Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015)(Ground 1); Movant's guilty plea was invalid (Ground 2); and Movant received ineffective assistance of counsel (Ground 3). ECF No. 1721 at 4.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Movant's Johnson claim

         Movant seeks a correction of his sentence on the basis that he should not have received a sentence enhancement under Johnson. 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 the ACCA as codified at 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.[2]

         Notably, Movant's sentence enhancement did not come from the ACCA but from § ...


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