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Dalton v. United States

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

April 25, 2017

SHANCE DALTON, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, U.S. District Judge.

         This cause is before the Court on Petitioner Shance Dalton's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (d/e 1) and an amended motion (d/e 3) (collectively referred to as the § 2255 Motion). Because Petitioner is not entitled to relief, the § 2255 Motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural Background Pertaining to the Underlying Criminal Case

         In late 2006, Petitioner pled guilty to distributing five grams or more of cocaine base (“crack”) in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and § 841(b)(1)(B) pursuant to a plea agreement. See United States v. Dalton, 06-20019 (hereinafter, Crim.). As part of the plea agreement, Petitioner waived his right to appeal and collaterally attack his conviction and sentence. Crim., Plea Agreement (d/e 14).

         The Probation Office prepared a Presentence Investigation Report (PSR). Crim., PSR (d/e 22). The PSR reflected that Petitioner qualified as a career offender under United States Sentencing Guidelines § 4B1.1 based on two prior convictions for a crime of violence (aggravated battery, Champaign County Circuit Court, Case Nos. 97-CF-445 and 97-CF-1115) and one prior conviction for a controlled substance offense (Champaign County Circuit Court, Case No. 99-CF-31). Id. ¶ 25; see also U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 (2006) (providing that a defendant is a career offender if he is at least 18 years old when he committed the instant offense, the instant offense is a felony that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense, and the defendant has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense). It is unclear whether the Court found that the convictions qualified under the elements clause of the career offender guideline or the residual clause. Compare U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a)(1) (2006) (defining a crime of violence to include an offense that “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another”) with §4B1.2(a)(2) (defining a crime of violence to include an offense that “otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another”).

         In light of the career offender designation, Petitioner's advisory sentencing guideline range was 262 to 327 months. Crim., PSR ¶ 70. The statutory minimum sentence was 120 months and the maximum term was life. Id. ¶ 69 (citing 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)). In April 2007, former United States District Judge Michael P. McCuskey sentenced Petitioner to 262 months' imprisonment to run concurrently with Petitioner's state conviction in Champaign County Case No. 07-CF-363. Crim., Judgment (d/e 25).

         In February 2008, the Government filed a Motion for Hearing to Determine Whether Defendant Violated Terms of Plea Agreement. Crim., Mot. (d/e 27). In May 2008, following a hearing, Judge McCuskey found that Petitioner had violated the terms of the plea agreement by failing to provide complete and truthful information regarding other criminal activity. Crim., May 29, 2008 Minute Entry; May 29, 2008 Tr. at 19 (d/e 47). The Court voided the plea agreement, stated that Petitioner could not withdraw his guilty plea, and set the matter for resentencing. Id. On July 31, 2008, Judge McCuskey vacated the original judgment and resentenced Petitioner to 441 months' imprisonment, to run concurrently with the state conviction in Champaign County Case No. 07-CF-363. Crim., Text Order of July 31, 2008; Judgment (d/e 40) (judgment dated August 1, 2008). Petitioner appealed. In November 2009, the Seventh Circuit entered an order granting the Government's motion to vacate the district court's decision, stating:

This case is remanded to the district court with instructions to vacate the order entered on July 31, 2008, vacating [Petitioner's] original sentence, and the judgment entered on August 1, 2008, imposing the new sentence. The district court lacked jurisdiction to alter [Petitioner's] sentence. See United States v. Lawrence, 535 F.3d 631, 637 (7th Cir. 2008).

Crim., Mandate (d/e 56). On remand, Judge McCuskey vacated the order entered July 31, 2008, which had vacated Petitioner's original sentence, and vacated the judgment entered August 1, 2008, which had imposed a new sentence. Crim. Text Order of December 8, 2009. The Court did not appoint counsel to represent Petitioner and did not hold a new sentencing hearing. On January 29, 2010, the Court entered an Amended Judgment, noting that the judgment dated August 1, 2008 was vacated pursuant to the Seventh Circuit's mandate and that the original judgment dated April 24, 2007 was reimposed. Crim., Am. Judgment (d/e 60).

         B. Background Pertaining to Petitioner's § 2255 Motion

         In June 2016, Petitioner filed a Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody based on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015) (holding that the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act is unconstitutionally vague). See d/e 1 (filed June 14, 2016), d/e 3 (filed June 21, 2016). Petitioner argued that his Illinois aggravated battery convictions no longer qualified as crimes of violence for purposes of the career offender guideline. The Court appointed counsel to represent Petitioner. The Government does not dispute that Petitioner's aggravated battery convictions, which were under the “insulting and provoking” prong of the Illinois statute, no longer qualify as crimes of violence.[1] Resp. at 5 (d/e 12); see also (d/e 17) (copies of the charging documents for Petitioner's aggravated battery convicitons).

         After Johnson was decided, courts considered whether Johnson applied to invalidate the identically worded residual clause in the career offender guideline, § 4B1.2(a)(2). In August 2016, the Seventh Circuit held that it did. United States v. Hurlburt, 835 F.3d 715, 725 (7th Cir. 2016) (applying Johnson and holding that the residual clause in § 4B1.2(a)(2) is unconstitutionally vague).

         On March 6, 2017, the United States Supreme Court decided Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017). The Supreme Court held that the “advisory Guidelines are not subject to vagueness challenges under the Due Process Clause” and the residual clause in § 4B1.2(a)(2) is not void for vagueness. Id. at 890 (also abrogating Hurlburt ...


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