Cartwright v. United States (6th Cir. August 2021)

The Federal Docket

September 27, 2021

Sentencing – Tennessee burglary is non-generic and cannot be a predicate offense under the ACCA

In 2005, Raymond Cartwright Jr. was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). The district court determined that he qualified as an armed career criminal because seven of his prior convictions qualified as “crimes of violence” under the statute. After the 2015 decision in Johnson v. United States invalidated the residual clause of the ACCA, Cartwright brought a habeas petition challenging his status as an armed career criminal. The district court agreed that four of his prior convictions no longer qualified as predicates but nevertheless denied his petition, finding that the remaining three burglaries from Tennessee were still violent felonies under the law.

Reviewing the case de novo and applying the Tennessee Supreme Court’s determination of the elements of burglary, the Sixth Circuit reversed that decision and remanded the case. Burglary as defined in Tennessee at the time of Cartwright’s prior convictions did not categorically fit within the scope of generic burglary. All three degrees of Tennessee burglary included “breaking after entry” and thus do not require unlawful entry or remaining.

Appeal from the Eastern District of Tennessee
Opinion by Nalbandian, joined by Kethledge and Stranch

Click here to read the opinion

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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