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Stoldorf v. United States

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

May 1, 2017

JESSE A. STOLDORF, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          OPINION

          SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause is before the Court on Petitioner Jesse A. Stoldorf's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(3) (d/e 1). Because Petitioner is not entitled to relief under Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), the Motion is DENIED. The Court GRANTS a certificate of appealability.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In March 2005, a jury found Petitioner guilty of possession of a firearm by a felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). The Probation Office prepared a Presentence Investigation Report (PSR). United States v. Stoldorf, Case No. 04-20048 (d/e 37) (hereinafter, Crim.). The PSR determined that Petitioner was an Armed Career Criminal pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) based on two 1994 burglary convictions in Montana (Mineral County District Court Case Nos. C-637 and C-649-5) and a 1998 conviction in Illinois for home invasion, residential burglary, and intimidation (Shelby County Case No. 98-CF-49). Crim., PSR ¶¶ 25, 28, 29, 31.[1]Neither the PSR nor the sentencing transcript indicate whether the prior convictions qualified as predicate offenses under the elements, enumerated, or residual clauses of the Armed Career Criminal Act.

         As an Armed Career Criminal, Petitioner faced a statutory mandatory minimum of 15 years' imprisonment to life imprisonment. Crim., PSR ¶ 70 (citing 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g), 924(e)(1)). Petitioner's advisory sentencing guideline range was 235 to 293 months' imprisonment. Crim., PSR ¶ 71. On July 5, 2005, former United States District Judge Michael P. McCuskey sentenced Petitioner to a term of 264 months' imprisonment. Crim., Judgment (d/e 39) (dated July 7, 2005).

         Petitioner appealed, arguing only that the prosecutor violated the Constitution by exercising a peremptory challenge on the basis of race. United States v. Stoldorf, No. 05-3020, 2006 WL 2355906 (7th Cir. Aug. 15, 2006). The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment and sentence. Id.

         On June 24, 2016, Petitioner filed the Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(3) (d/e 1) at issue herein. The Government responded to the Motion (d/e 3), and Petitioner filed a Reply (d/e 4). On November 22, 2016, the Court appointed counsel to represent Petitioner. On December 22, 2016, counsel filed a Supplemental Response (d/e 6), to which the Government filed a response (d/e 7).

         Petitioner argues he is entitled to relief because his two prior Montana burglary convictions and the Illinois residential burglary conviction do not qualify as violent felonies under the Armed Career Criminal Act.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A person convicted of a federal crime may move to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Relief under § 2255 is an extraordinary remedy because a § 2255 petitioner has already had “an opportunity for full process.” Almonacid v. United States, 476 F.3d 518, 521 (7th Cir. 2007). Post-conviction relief under § 2255 is therefore “appropriate only for an error of law that is jurisdictional, constitutional, or constitutes a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Harris v. United States, 366 F.3d 593, 594 (7th Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         III. ANALYSIS

         An explanation of the Armed Career Criminal Act is necessary to put Petitioner's claim in context. Generally, the penalty for the offense of being a felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), is up to 10 years' imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2). However, if a defendant violates § 922(g) and has three previous convictions for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, the Armed Career Criminal Act increases the sentence to a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years and up to life. 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1); Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2555.

The Act defines a violent felony as:
[A]ny crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year . . . that-
(i) has as 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 [.]

18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B) (emphasis added). The underlined portion is referred to as the “residual clause.” The other portions are referred to as the “elements clause” (18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(i)) and the “enumerated clause” (the portion listing burglary, arson, extortion, and offenses that involve the use of explosives). The United States Supreme Court recently found the residual clause unconstitutional. Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 2563 (2015) (holding that “imposing an increased sentence under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act violates the Constitution's guarantee of due process”).

         When determining whether a prior conviction qualifies as a violent felony, courts generally apply the categorical approach, meaning the court looks only to the fact of the conviction and the statutory definition of the prior offense. Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575, 602 (1990). When determining whether a prior conviction, such as burglary, qualifies under the enumerated clause, the court compares the elements of the statute forming the basis of the prior conviction with the elements of the generic crime of burglary. See id. at 599; Descamps v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2276, 2281 (2013). When the statute's elements are ...


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