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United States v. Favela

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

September 27, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERTO FAVELA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Harry D. Leinenweber, Judge United States District Court

         Roberto Favela’s (“Favela”) Motion to Alter or Amend a Judgment (Dkt. No. 7) is granted consistent with the Supreme Court’s holding in United States v. Davis, 139 S.Ct. 2319, 2336 (2019). The Court hereby vacates Favela’s conviction for violating 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) and terminates one of his two concurrent terms of supervised release while leaving intact all other conditions of his criminal judgment. (See United States v. Russell et al., No. 13-cr-600-2 (N.D. Ill.), Judgment, Dkt. No. 52.)

         I. BACKGROUND

         Favela pled guilty in 2014 to two counts: conspiracy to commit bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (“Count One”) and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) (“Count Two”). Favela was sentenced to 16 months of incarceration on Count One and 60 months on Count Two, to be served consecutively. He also received two concurrent three- year terms of supervised release, one for each Count. (See Judgment.)

         In 2016, Favela filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Dkt. No. 1.) Favela argued in his Motion that the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015) required Count Two be vacated. Favela’s violation of § 924(c)(1)(A) for use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence relied on a definition of “crime of violence” contained within 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3)(B). But Johnson dealt with sentence enhancements under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), for people who had previous convictions for a “violent felony, ” defined in part as “conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2555; see also 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii). The Supreme Court held that definition to be so vague as to be unconstitutional. See generally Johnson, 135 S.Ct. 2551.

         In his § 2255 motion, Favela argued that his conviction for the use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence was invalid because the definition of “crime of violence” fell within a catch-all clause - called a residual clause - contained in 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3)(B). Favela asserted that the residual clause he was sentenced under was unconstitutionally vague under Johnson.

         The sentencing judge denied Favela’s petition, citing Cooper v. Krueger, 2015 WL 8215348 at *3 (C.D. Ill. 2015) (holding that Johnson did not apply to a conviction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)) and found that Favela was not sentenced under the residual clause ruled unconstitutionally vague in Johnson.

         Favela then filed a Motion to Alter or Amend the Denial of his § 2255 petition pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), arguing that § 924(c)(3)(B)’s residual clause is unconstitutional and that conspiracy to commit bank robbery is not “categorically a crime of violence.” (Favela’s Mot. at 4, Dkt. No. 7.) The sentencing court stayed briefing of Favela’s Motion pending decisions in Sessions v. Dimaya, 13 S.Ct. 1204 (2018) and United States v. Davis, 139 S.Ct. 2319 (2019). While Favela’s Motion was pending, his case was reassigned to this Court.

         Because Dimaya and Davis have been decided, the Court will now rule on Favela’s Motion to Reconsider the denial of his § 2255 motion.

         II. STANDARD

         The Court can grant a Rule 59(e) motion if the movant establishes that the court committed manifest error of law or fact or if the movant presents newly discovered evidence that could not have been discovered at the time of trial. Barrington Music Products, Inc., 924 F.3d 966, 968 (7th Cir. 2019).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Disposition of Section 2255 Motion

         Favela’s § 2255 motion and his motion to reconsider focus on the constitutionality of his conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Section 924(c) enumerates a range of penalties for anyone who “uses or carries a firearm” in furtherance of any “crime of violence” or “drug trafficking crime.” The statute ...


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