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United States v. Pinkney

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

June 19, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent,
v.
JAMES PINKNEY, Movant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          MATTHEW F. KENINELLY United States District Judge.

         In April 2010, James Pinkney was charged with possessing a firearm after having been convicted of a felony, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Pinkney pled guilty, and in April 2012, the Court sentenced him to a prison term of 180 months. On June 23, 2016, Pinkney filed this motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a) seeking to vacate his sentence, arguing that the sentence enhancement he received under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), violated his due process rights.

         Background

         The ACCA states that a sentence is enhanced where a court finds that the defendant has been previously convicted of three violent felonies. The statute defines a violent felony as follows:

(B) the term “violent felony” means any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, or any act of juvenile delinquency involving the use or carrying of a firearm, knife, or destructive device that would be punishable by imprisonment for such term if committed by an adult, 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). The last clause in this section, specifically section 924(e)(2)(B)(ii), is typically referred to as the ACCA's "residual clause."

         In October 2011, Pinkney pled guilty pursuant to a written plea agreement to a charge of possessing a firearm after having been convicted of a felony. In the plea agreement, Pinkney agreed that he had three convictions for "violent felonies" within the meaning of the ACCA-two for robbery and one for criminal sexual assault.[1] The plea agreement described these convictions as follows:

iii. On or about March 13, 1985, defendant was convicted of burglary and robbery in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, and sentenced to three years' imprisonment. Defendant receives zero criminal history points for this conviction pursuant to Guideline § 4A1.2(e). However, this conviction is a "violent felony" under 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(e)(1) & (e)(2)(B)(ii).
iv. On or about August 29, 1986, defendant was convicted of robbery in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, and sentenced to 42 months' imprisonment. Defendant receives zero criminal history points for this conviction pursuant to Guideline § 4A1.2(e). However, this conviction is a "violent felony" under 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(e)(1) & (e)(2)(B).
viii. On or about February 24, 1997, defendant was convicted of criminal sexual assault in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, and sentenced to four years' imprisonment. Defendant receives three criminal history points for this conviction pursuant to Guideline § 4A1.1(a). This conviction is also a "violent felony" under 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(e)(1) & (e)(2)(B)(i).

See Case No. 11 CR 00072, Plea Agreement (dkt. no. # 25) ¶ 9.c.iii., iv., viii.

         With the ACCA enhancement, Pinkney faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 months' imprisonment and an advisory Sentencing Guidelines range of 180 to 210 months. The Court imposed the minimum sentence, 180 months.

         Discussion

         Pinkney brings this motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Under section 2255(f)(3), a defendant may file a motion to challenge his conviction or sentence within one year of "the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral ...


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