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United States v. Mayfield

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi

January 29, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
WALTER LEE MAYFIELD

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT WALTER MAYFIELD'S MOTION TO VACATE, SET ASIDE, OR CORRECT SENTENCE

         Defendant Walter Mayfield has moved this court to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence [Doc. No. 31] pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Having considered the matter, the court finds the motion should be denied.

         On November 6, 2014, Mayfield was sentenced to 72 month's imprisonment for being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922 and 924. The Court found that Mayfield was subject to an increased offense level under U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(a)(4)(A) because he had three prior convictions that qualified as a "crime of violence" as defined by U.S.S.G. § 4B 1.2(a). The Court also found Mayfield was subject to an increased offense level pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.4 after this Court found he was an armed career criminal under the definition of 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) because he had had been convicted of three prior "violent felonies." The prior convictions upon which the Court based those findings were Mayfield's prior Mississippi convictions of burglary and two instances of armed robbery. Mayfield argues that in light of the United States Supreme Court's holding in Johnson v. United States, U.S., 135 S.Ct. 2551, 192 L.Ed.2d (2015), his two armed robbery convictions do not qualify as either "crimes of violence" under §4B 1.2(a) or "violent felonies" under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e).

         U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1 provides for increased base offense levels when a defendant has prior convictions that qualify as a "crime of violence". "Crime of violence" for purposes of § 2K2.1 has the same meaning given the term in § 4B1.2. U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1 cmt n. 13. Section 4B1.2, at the time Mayfield was sentenced, § 4B1.2 defined a "crime of violence" as

any offense under federal or state law, punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, that-
(1) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another, or
(2) 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)(2010).

         Section 4B1.4 subjects "armed career criminals" to increased offense levels and defines an "armed career criminal" as a "defendant who is subject to an enhanced sentence under the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)." U.S.S.G. § 4Bl.4(a). Section 924(e) provides mandatory minimum sentences for felons in possession of a firearm who have three prior convictions for a "violent felony" or "serious drug offense." 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). The statute defines "violent felony" as

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). In Johnson, the United States Supreme Court held the second part of § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii) that defines "violent felony" to include an offense that "involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another, " known as the residual clause, was unconstitutionally vague. Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2563.

         Mayfield argues that this renders his sentence incorrect for two reasons. First, because the residual clause of § 924(e) was found unconstitutional, and because the definition of "armed career criminal" under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.4 is based on § 924(e), he is no longer an "armed career criminal" within the meaning of § 4B1.4, Second, because § 4Bl.2's definition of "crime of violence" is identical to § 924(e), § 4Bl.2's residual clause is also unconstitutional, and cannot be used to classify his armed robbery convictions as "crimes of violence." Therefore, he argues, he does not have three prior convictions of "crimes of violence" and is warranted a lower base offense level under 2K2.1.

         The Court agrees that if Mayfield is not "subject to an enhanced sentence under the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)" then he is not an "armed career criminal" under § 4B1.4. However Johnson did not invalidate the entire definition of "violent felony" under ยง 924(e). "Today's decision does not call into question application of the Act to the four enumerated offenses, or the remainder of the Act's definition of a violent felony." 134 S.Ct. at 2563. Thus, Mayfield's armed robbery convictions can qualify as violent felonies if armed robbery under Mississippi law "has as an element the ...


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