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United States v. Adams

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

November 28, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
CAMILLE ADAMS, Defendant/Movant.

          ORDER DENYING § 2255 MOTION AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          Susan P. Watters, United States District Court

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant/Movant Camille Adams' motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Adams seeks relief under Johnson v. United States, __ U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which was made retroactive to final judgments by Welch v. United States, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 1257 (2016).[1]

         I. Procedural Background

         On January 17, 2008, Adams was indicted on one count of conspiring to violate the Hobbs Act by robbery, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 (Count 1); two counts of Hobbs Act robbery, violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 (Counts 2 and 4); two counts of using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to the robberies alleged in Counts 2 and 4, violations of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) (Counts 3 and 5); one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Count 6); and one count of possessing a stolen firearm, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(j) (Count 9). Adams was not named in Counts 7 or 8. Aiding and abetting was also charged in Counts 2 through 5. See Indictment (Doc. 1) at 1-6; Plea Agreement (Doc. 32) at 4-6 ¶ 4.

         The parties reached a plea agreement. Adams agreed to plead guilty to Counts 3, 4, and 5. Count 4 arose from robbery of a Town Pump Store in Columbus, Montana; it was the predicate crime for the § 924(c) charge in Count 5. Adams did not plead guilty to Count 2, which arose from robbery of a Thriftway Store in Butte, Montana, but it was the predicate crime for the § 924(c) charge in Count 3. The plea agreement recited the following elements:

18 USC § 1951-Knowingly Interfere with Interstate Commerce By Robbery (Hobbs Act Robbery) (Count IV)
First, that defendants induced persons at the Thriftway Store (Butte, MT) and the Town Pump Food Store (Columbus, MT) to part with property;
Second, that defendants did so knowingly and deliberately by robbery; and
Third, that in doing so, interstate commerce was obstructed, delayed or otherwise affected.

18 USC § 924(c)-Use of Firearm In Federal Crime of Violence (Counts [sic] V)

First, the defendant committed the crime of interference with commerce by threats or violence as charged in Count IV[2] of the indictment;
Second, the defendant knowingly used a firearm; and
Third, the defendant knowingly used a firearm during and in relation to the crime.

Plea Agreement at 5-6.

         In exchange for Adams' guilty plea to Counts 3, 4, and 5, the United States agreed to dismiss Counts 1, 2, 6, and 9. Id. at 2 ¶ 5. Adams pled guilty. See Minutes (Doc. 39).

         On March 26, 2009, Adams was sentenced to serve 499 months in prison, consisting of 84 months on Count 3, 115 months on Count 4, and 300 months on Count 5, with all terms to run consecutively. Minutes (Doc. 69); Judgment (Doc. 70) at 2. Adams did not appeal. His conviction became final on April 9, 2009. Gonzalez v. Thaler, 565 U.S. 134, 150 (2012).

         Adams now 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) (holding that Johnson applies to cases already final when it was issued).

         II. Legal Background

         A. 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)

         In Johnson v. United States, __ U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015) ("Johnson" or "Johnson II"), the Supreme Court considered once again 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). Johnson discussed only the italicized clause, commonly called the "residual" clause.

         The Supreme Court found the residual clause so vague that it deprived defendants of fair notice of the consequences of their decisions and so loose that it invited arbitrary enforcement. Therefore, the decision held, federal sentencing courts may no longer enhance 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 ยง ...


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