Section 2255

Rickey Thompson v. United States (11th Cir. May 2019)

The Court affirmed the district court’s denial of the defendant’s second § 2255 motion, holding that the defendant’s federal second-degree murder offenses, based on pointing a firearm at boat passengers and throwing them overboard, was a “crime of violence” under § 924(c)’s residual and elements clause.

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United States v. Sergio Murillo (4th Cir. June 2019)

The Court vacated the defendant's sentence and conviction after finding that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel advised him that his plea would only trigger his possible deportation, where deportation was actually mandatory and the evidence reflected that the defendant would not have pleaded guilty if he knew deportation was mandatory. The Court added that the boilerplate language int he plea agreement indicating that deportation was mandatory was not dispositive.

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United States v. Michael St. Hubert (11th Cir. March 2019), EN BANC

A majority of the Court voted against granting a rehearing en banc. The Court produced three dissents and three opinions concurring in the decision to deny granting a rehearing en banc. This decision leaves in place the prior panel opinion regarding the ACCA and the binding authority of prior panel orders on Section 2255 petitions as applied to future, non-2255 cases.

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United States v. Albert Pickett

United States v. Albert Pickett, No. 17-13476 (February 20, 2019)

The Court remanded the defendant’s second § 2255 motion since the defendant did not have an opportunity to show his conviction was based solely on the ACCA’s residual clause prior to the Eleventh Circuit announcing the heightened standard in Beeman.

28 USC 2255/ACCA – Defendant’s second § 2255 motion based on Johnson was remanded to the district court because the defendant did not have the opportunity to develop a record under the standard set in Beeman v. United States.

The district court initially granted Albert Pickett’s § 2255 motion after showing that he was no longer qualified for an enhanced sentence under the ACCA in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Johnson. The Government appealed but, before any briefs were filed, the Eleventh Circuit decided Beeman, where it held that a § 2255 movant must show their sentence was more likely than not based on the residual clause, and only the residual clause, of the ACCA in order to merit relief.

On appeal, the Court held that Pickett had not met the standard in Beeman but acknowledged that he did not have an opportunity to make his case under that standard because he filed his motion before Beeman was decided.

The Court noted that “whether the residual clause was the basis for the sentencing court’s enhancement is a question of historical fact” based on the record. If the record is under-determinative, courts are directed to look at the relevant case law at the time of sentencing.

Here, the Court analyzed the record on appeal to determine whether the district court qualified Pickett’s prior convictions solely under the residual clause. The Court held that, though the residual clause would have been “the most obvious clause” for the sentencing court to rely on (in fact, the sentencing court noted at sentencing that Pickett did not object to the PSI since the residual clause applied to his convictions), there was insufficient evidence showing the sentencing court more likely than not relied only on the residual clause and did not consider the elements clause. The case law at the time was also not determinative. Pickett therefore had not met his burden under Beeman.

The Court also held, however, that neither party could have anticipated the standard announced in Beeman, so the case was remanded to give Pickett an opportunity to develop the record and show that the district court did in fact only rely on the residual clause.

Appeal from the Southern District of Florida

Opinion by Marcus, joined by Dubina and Goldberg (by designation from U.S. Court of International Trade)

TAGS: Section 2255

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