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Buchanan v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

August 29, 2018

JESSE T. BUCHANAN, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2255 AND DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         For the reasons explained in this Entry, the motion of Jesse T. Buchanan for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 must be denied and this action dismissed with prejudice. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.

         I. § 2255 Standard

         A motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is the presumptive means by which a federal prisoner can challenge his conviction or sentence. See Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 343 (1974). A court may grant relief from a federal conviction or sentence pursuant to § 2255 “upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). The scope of relief available under § 2255 is narrow, limited to “an error of law that is jurisdictional, constitutional, or constitutes a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Borre v. United States, 940 F.2d 215, 217 (7th Cir. 1991) (internal citations omitted).

         II. Background

         On December 11, 2002, after a three-day jury trial, Mr. Buchanan was convicted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana of four counts of trafficking cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). USA v. Buchanan, No. 1:02-cr-00046-WTL-KPF (hereinafter “Crim. Dkt.”), Dkt. No. 1 at 7 (S.D. Ind.).

         In preparation for sentencing, the United States Probation Office prepared a presentence report (PSR). See Dkt. No. 33 (Sealed). Under the 2002 United States Sentencing Guidelines (“U.S.S.G.”), Mr. Buchanan had a base offense level of 34, and two levels were added because a firearm and other illegal contraband was found in Mr. Buchanan's residence, raising his total offense level to 36. Id. ¶¶ 18-19. He was also determined to be a career offender because of two or more prior felony drug convictions and crimes of violence as defined in § 4B1.1. However, because the offense level for a career offender of 34 was lower than the level otherwise applicable in the case, the offense level of 36 from his underlying conviction was the applicable offense level for his sentence. Id. ¶ 26. An offense level of 36 combined with a criminal history category VI, resulted in a Guidelines imprisonment range of 324 to 405 months. Id. ¶ 74.

         Mr. Buchanan was sentenced to 400 months' imprisonment. Crim. Dkt. No. 1 at 10. Mr. Buchanan appealed his sentence, but the Seventh Circuit affirmed his sentence. United States v. Buchanan, 362 F.3d 411 (7th Cir. 2004).

         On May 2, 2006, Mr. Buchanan filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his conviction and sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Crim. Dkt. 1 at 14. The Court denied his motion. Id.

         On November 14, 2009, Mr. Buchanan filed a second motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his conviction and sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Crim. Dkt. 1 at 15. The Court dismissed his motion for lack of jurisdiction. Id.

         In 2015, the Supreme Court in Johnson held that the so-called residual clause of the ACCA (Armed Career Criminal Act) was unconstitutionally vague. Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 2563 (2015). The ACCA defines “violent felony” as “any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year” that 1) “has as an element the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against the person of another;” 2) “is burglary, arson, or extortion, [or] involves the use of explosives;” or 3) “otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B). These three “clauses” are respectively known as 1) the elements clause, 2) the enumerated clause, and 3) the residual clause. In Johnson, the Supreme Court ruled that the residual clause was unconstitutionally vague. In Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), the Supreme Court discussed the appropriate analysis to use when comparing past convictions to a generic offense listed under the enumerated clause of the ACCA. The career offender enhancement (§ 4B1.1) in the United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G) contains language similar to the ACCA.

         On June 20, 2016, Mr. Buchanan filed an application with the Seventh Circuit seeking authorization to file a successive motion to vacate under § 2255 limited to a claim under Johnson. On June 23, 2016, the Seventh Circuit granted the application and authorized the Court to consider Mr. Buchanan's Johnson claim. Buchanan v. USA, No. 16-2527 (7th Cir. June 23, 2016).

         III. Discussion

         Mr. Buchanan seeks relief pursuant to § 2255 arguing that his prior Indiana battery felony conviction is not a predicate offense in view of the Supreme Court decisions under Johnson and Mathis. Dkt. No. 25; Dkt. No. 26. The United States argues that the Court is only authorized by the Seventh Circuit to consider Mr. Buchanan's Johnson claim, which was foreclosed by the Seventh Circuit's holding in Douglas v. United States, 858 F.3d 1069 (7th Cir. 2017). Dkt. No. 32. In reply, Mr. Buchanan ...


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