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United States v. Eagleman

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

November 16, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
SEASON HOPE EAGLEMAN, Defendant/Movant.

          ORDER DENYING § 2255 MOTION AND GRANTING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          BRIAN MORRIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         This case comes before the Court on Defendant Eagleman's motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Eagleman is a federal prisoner proceeding with counsel. The Court conducted a hearing on Eagleman's motion on November 1, 2017. (Doc. 37.) Counsel argued on behalf of Eagleman and the United States.

         I. Background

         Eagleman pled guilty in 2006 to one count of assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 113(a)(3) (“Count 1”), and one count of using or carrying and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) and (iii) (“Count 2”). The Court sentenced Eagleman on January 25, 2007, to a term of 30 months on Count 1 and a mandatory consecutive seven-year term on Count 2. See Plea Agreement (Doc. 15) at 3-4 ¶ 6, 5 ¶ 8; Judgment (Doc. 25) at 1-2. She seeks relief under the United States Supreme Court's recent decision in Johnson v. United States, __ U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). See also Welch v. United States, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 1257, 1265 (2016) (applying Johnson to cases already final when it was issued).

         II. 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)

         The Court in Johnson considered the meaning of a provision in the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). The ACCA imposes a harsher sentence on a person convicted of a firearms offense if the person has three prior convictions for a violent felony or controlled substance offense. The Act defines a “violent felony” as a felony 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) (emphasis added). Johnson discussed only the italicized clause, commonly called the “residual” clause.

         The Supreme Court determined the residual clause to be vague to the extent that it deprived defendants of fair notice of the consequences of their decisions and so loose that it invited arbitrary enforcement by sentencing judges. Johnson prohibited federal sentencing courts from enhancing a defendant's sentence based on a prior conviction when that conviction qualifies as a “violent felony” only under the residual clause. See Johnson, 135 U.S. at 2555-60, 2563. Johnson did not address either subsection (i), or the first line of subsection (ii), in § 924(e)(2)(B). Those provisions remain valid law.

         III. 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)

         Eagleman challenges her conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), and

         (iii), for using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a “crime of violence.” Section § 924(c)(3)'s definition of “crime of violence” differs from than the definition of a “violent felony” in § 924(e)(2)(B):

         (3) For purposes of this subsection [§ 924(c)] the term “crime of violence” means ...


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