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United States v. Jackson

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

December 6, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
TREY JACKSON

          OPINION AND ORDER

          THERESA L. SPRINGMANN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         The Defendant, Trey Jackson, is serving a sentence for armed bank robbery, 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d), and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The Defendant now seeks to vacate his conviction and sentence under § 924(c) [Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody, ECF No. 143]. His Motion is predicated on the Supreme Court's recent decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). The Defendant maintains that armed bank robbery can no longer be a predicate offense for a § 924(c) conviction.

         The Defendant filed his Motion on June 6, 2016-within the one-year period set forth in § 2255(f)(3), based on the Supreme Court's June 26, 2015 decision in Johnson, which is retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review. Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257, 1265 (2016) (“Johnson is . . . a substantive decision and so has retroactive effect . . . in cases on collateral review.”); Price v. United States, 795 F.3d 731, 734 (7th Cir. 2015) (Johnson announced a new substantive rule which applies retroactively on collateral review). The Court treats the Motion as timely filed.

         ANALYSIS

         Section 2255 allows a defendant to move to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence that was imposed in violation of the Constitution of the United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Relief under § 2255 is “available only in extraordinary situations, ” requiring an error of constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude or a fundamental defect that resulted in a complete miscarriage of justice. Blake v. United States, 723 F.3d 870, 879-80 (7th Cir. 2013).

         To sustain a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3), the government must prove that the defendant (1) used or carried a firearm and (2) did so during and in relation to a “crime of violence.” Under § 924(c)(3), the term “crime of violence” is “an offense that is a felony” that (A) “has as 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.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3)(A)-(B). Subsection (A) is known as the elements clause, and subsection (B) is referred to as the residual clause.

         The Indictment identifies the predicate crime of violence as bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). A defendant commits bank robbery if he:

by force and violence, or by intimidation, takes, or attempts to take, from the person or presence of another, or obtains or attempts to obtain by extortion any property or money or any other thing of value belonging to, or in the care, custody, control, management, or possession of, any bank, credit union, or any savings and loan association.

18 U.S.C. § 2113(a).

         As already stated, the Defendant's Motion invokes the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson, which held that the residual clause of the definition of a “violent felony” in the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B), is unconstitutionally vague. 135 S.Ct. at 2557 (invalidating the phrase “or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another”). The Defendant was not sentenced under the ACCA, but he claims that bank robbery no longer qualifies as a crime of violence under § 924(c)(3) based on Johnson's reasoning.

         A recent Seventh Circuit opinion has direct bearing on this case. In United States v. Armour, 840 F.3d 904 (7th Cir. 2016), the court held that bank robbery under § 2113(a) is a crime of violence under § 924(c)'s elements clause, which is not unconstitutionally vague. Id. at 907, 908. Even presuming the bank robbery conviction rested on the least serious acts that could satisfy the statute, “bank robbery under § 2113(a) inherently contains a threat of violent physical force.” Id. at 909 (“A bank employee can reasonably believe that a robber's demands for money to which he is not entitled will be met with violent force of the type satisfying” the Supreme Court's definition). Because bank robbery is crime of violence, the Court finds no basis to vacate the Defendant's firearm conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).

         CONCLUSION

         For the reasons stated above, the Court DENIES the Defendant's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody [ECF No. 143]. Because reasonable jurists would not debate that the Motion fails to present a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right, or that the Motion should have been resolved in a different ...


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