United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
JAMES B. HANSON, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant. Criminal No. 09-cr-40003-JPG-06
PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on petitioner James B.
Hanson's motion to vacate, set aside or correct his
sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. 1). Pursuant
to Administrative Order 176, counsel was appointed to
represent the petitioner because his motion was based on the
theory that Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551
(2015), applied to the career offender (“CO”)
sentencing guideline (Doc. 2). Counsel has moved to withdraw
on the basis that, in light of the Supreme Court's
decision in Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886
(2017), she can make no non-frivolous argument in support of
§ 2255 relief for Hanson (Doc. 5). The Government has
not responded to counsel's motion. Hanson objects to
counsel's withdrawal and maintains he is entitled to
§ 2255 relief under Johnson and Mathis v.
United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016) (Doc. 8).
December 10, 2009, Hanson pled guilty to one count of
conspiracy to manufacture more than 500 grams of
methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)
and (b)(1)(A). At sentencing on April 15, 2010, the Court
found that Hanson was a career offender under United States
Sentencing Guidelines Manual (“U.S.S.G.”) §
4B1.1 based on one prior Kentucky felony residential burglary
conviction and one prior Illinois felony drug conviction.
Hanson's career offender status established a base
offense level of 37. His offense level was reduced by three
points under U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(a) and (b) to 34 because
Hanson timely demonstrated acceptance of responsibility for
his offense. Considering Hanson's criminal history
category of VI, established by his career offender status
under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 as well as his accumulation of
criminal history points, this yielded a sentencing range of
262 to 327 months in prison. The Court imposed a sentence of
262 months and entered a written judgment on April 20, 2010.
Hanson appealed his sentence, but on August 25, 2010, the
Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal pursuant to
Hanson's motion for voluntarily dismissal.
filed the pending § 2255 motion on April 18, 2016. The
Court conducts its preliminary review of his § 2255
motion pursuant to Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section
2255 Proceedings for the United States District Courts and
its evaluation of counsel's motion to withdraw at the
same time. Because it is plain from the motion and the record
of the prior proceedings that Hanson is not entitled to
relief based on Johnson, the Court will deny his
§ 2255 motion in that regard for the reasons set forth
below. Because counsel was appointed primarily for the
purpose of assessing Hanson's prospects for relief under
Johnson, which, as explained below, are
non-existent, the Court will also grant counsel's motion
to withdraw (Doc. 5).
it appears Hanson has also raised, albeit obliquely, an
argument that he is entitled to § 2255 relief based on
the theory discussed in Mathis. The Court will not
dismiss that ground at this time.
§ 2255 Standard
Court must grant a § 2255 motion when a defendant's
“sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution
or laws of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
However, “[r]elief under § 2255 is available
‘only in extraordinary situations, such as an error of
constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude or where a
fundamental defect has occurred which results in a complete
miscarriage of justice.'” United States v.
Coleman, 763 F.3d 706, 708 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Blake v. United States, 723 F.3d 870, 878-79 (7th
Cir. 2013)). It is proper to deny a § 2255 motion
without an evidentiary hearing if “the motion and the
files and records of the case conclusively demonstrate that
the prisoner is entitled to no relief.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(b); see Sandoval v. United States, 574
F.3d 847, 850 (7th Cir. 2009).
filed this § 2255 motion arguing that his due process
rights were violated when the Court applied the residual
clause of the CO guideline to find his prior residential
burglary conviction was a “crime of violence”
supporting CO status and increasing his guidelines sentencing
range. At the time, the CO guideline stated, in
pertinent part, that a prior offense is a crime of violence
if it “is burglary of a dwelling, arson, or extortion,
involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct
that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to
another.” U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a)(2) (2009)
(enumerated offenses clause is in regular type; residual
clause is italicized).
petitioner's argument relies on Johnson v. United
States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which held that the use
of the identical residual clause in the Armed Career Criminal
Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), to
increase the statutory sentencing range is unconstitutional.
Id. at 2563. This is because the vagueness of the
clause denies fair notice to a defendant of his potential
punishment and invites arbitrary enforcement by judges.
Id. at 2557. In United States v. Hurlburt,
835 F.3d 715 (7th Cir. 2016) (en banc), the Seventh
Circuit Court of Appeals applied the same rationale to hold
that use of the CO residual clause to support CO status,
thereby increasing the guideline sentencing range, is also
unconstitutional. Id. at 725.
however, was overruled by Beckles v. United States,
137 S.Ct. 886, 892 (2017), which held that sentencing
guidelines are not amenable to vagueness challenges. This is
because, unlike the statute at issue in Johnson,
advisory guidelines “do not fix the permissible range
of sentences” but “merely guide the exercise of a
court's discretion in choosing an appropriate sentence
within the statutory range.” Id.
the Court had relied on the residual clause to find
Hanson's residential burglary conviction was a crime of
violence, Beckles forecloses the petitioner's
argument that he is entitled to § 2255 relief. There was
nothing unconstitutional about the Court's using the CO
residual clause to find Hanson's prior convictions were
crimes of violence supporting CO status. This is because the
Court's guideline range findings did not fix the
sentencing range but merely ...