Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Williams v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division

February 12, 2018

MARK DAMON WILLIAMS, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          R. STAN BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         More than eleven years ago, this Court sentenced Mark Damon Williams (“Williams”) to 188 months' imprisonment under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”). Williams, who is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Jesup, Georgia, has now filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct his Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. 149.)[1]Williams contends that the Court must resentence him following the United States Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, ___ U.S. at ___, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (June 26, 2015). However, Johnson only invalidated the ACCA's residual clause, and Williams has failed to demonstrate that the Court relied upon that clause during his sentencing proceedings. Moreover, even if the Court relied upon the residual clause at his sentencing, Williams' has sufficient predicate offenses to qualify as an armed career criminal, absent operation of the residual clause. Therefore, he is not entitled to relief under Johnson.

         For the reasons set forth more fully below, I RECOMMEND this Court DISMISS in part and DENY in part Williams' Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct his Sentence. (Doc. 149.) The Court should DISMISS Williams' claims that are not based on Johnson as untimely and should DENY Williams' Johnson-based arguments on the merits. Further, I RECOMMEND that the Court DENY Williams a Certificate of Appealability and in forma pauperis status on appeal and DIRECT the Clerk of Court to CLOSE this case and enter the appropriate judgment of dismissal. Additionally, the Court DISMISSES as moot Williams' Motion of Judicial Notice, (doc. 154), and Motion for Status Report, (doc. 155).

         BACKGROUND

         I. The Armed Career Criminal Act

         The Court typically begins its discussion of a matter by detailing the factual and procedural background of the case before it. However, the facts and history of Williams' case will be better understood by first discussing the federal statutes under which Williams was prosecuted and recent cases pertinent to those laws.

         Federal law prohibits certain persons, including convicted felons, from shipping, possessing, or receiving firearms in or affecting interstate commerce. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Ordinarily, an individual who violates this prohibition faces a statutory maximum sentence of ten years' imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. § 924(a). However, a statutory provision known as the “Armed Career Criminal Act” or “ACCA” imposes a higher mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for certain offenders. Any person who violates Section 922(g) and has on three or more occasions been convicted for a “serious drug offense” or “violent felony” will receive a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years' imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). “Serious drug offense” means “an offense under State law, involving manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute, a controlled substance . . . for which a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or more is prescribed by law[.]” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(A)(ii). The ACCA defines “violent felony” as:

[A]ny 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).

         The first prong of this definition, set forth in subsection (i), has come to be known as the “elements clause, ” while the crimes listed at the beginning of the subsection (ii), “burglary, arson, or extortion, or involves use of explosives, ” have come to be known as the “enumerated crimes.” United States v. Owens, 672 F.3d 966, 968 (11th Cir. 2012). Finally, the last portion of subsection (ii), “or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another, ” is commonly referred to as the “residual clause.” Id.

         In the landmark case of Johnson, ___ U.S. at ___, 135 S.Ct. at 2563, the Supreme Court held that “imposing an increased sentence under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act violates the Constitution's guarantee of due process[.]” Thus, the Court struck down that portion of the ACCA. However, the Court also emphasized that its “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.” Id. In Welch v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct.

         1257, 1264-65 (Apr. 18, 2016), the Supreme Court held that Johnson announced a new substantive rule that applies retroactively to cases on collateral review.

         II. Williams' Conviction and Sentencing

         On November 2, 2005, a grand jury in this District returned a one-count Indictment alleging that Williams possessed a firearm as a convicted felon and an armed career criminal, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e). (Doc. 1.) The grand jury charged that Williams had accumulated several state felony convictions before his possession of a .357 caliber revolver on December 8, 2004. (Id.) The Indictment specifically listed four prior felonies: (1) an April 17, 1995, conviction for aggravated assault committed on October 25, 1994; (2) a September 15, 1997, conviction for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute committed on April 24, 1997; (3) a September 15, 1997, conviction for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute committed on July 23, 1997; and (4) an October 26, 1999, conviction for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute committed on September 23, 1999. (Id.) The Government's Penalty Certification filed at the commencement of the case stated that Williams faced a minimum term of imprisonment of fifteen years under the ACCA and a maximum of life imprisonment. (Doc. 2.) On September 7, 2006, after a trial, a jury found Williams guilty of the sole charge against him, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of the ACCA. (Doc. 115.)

         Prior to Williams' sentencing hearing, United States Probation Officer Fonda Dixon prepared a Pre-Sentence Investigation report (“PSI”). Probation Officer Dixon detailed Williams' offense conduct and criminal history and calculated Williams' statutory penalties, as well as his advisory Guidelines' range. The PSI set forth a lengthy list of adult criminal convictions. (Doc. 148, ¶¶ 24-34.) Pertinently, Williams' criminal history included the following convictions: (1) a January 5, 1982, conviction in Cumberland County District Court, Fayetteville, North Carolina, for committing assault inflicting serious injury on May 30, 1981; (2) an April 17, 1995, conviction in the Superior Court of Glynn County in Brunswick, Georgia, for committing aggravated assault by assaulting a victim with a knife on October 25, 1994; (3) a September 15, 1997, conviction in the Superior Court of Glynn County in Brunswick, Georgia, for possessing cocaine with intent to distribute on April 24, 1997;[2] (4) a September 15, 1997, conviction in the Superior Court of Glynn County in Brunswick, Georgia, for possessing cocaine with intent to distribute on July 23, 1997;[3] and (5) an October 26, 1999, conviction in the Superior Court of Glynn County in Brunswick, Georgia, for possessing cocaine with intent to distribute on October 26, 1999. (Id. at ¶¶ 24, 27, 29, 30, 32.) When calculating Williams' offense conduct, Probation Officer Dixon stated, “[T]he defendant has been convicted of assault inflicting serious injury, aggravated assault, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute (convicted for three different offenses occurring separately from one another). Since the instant offense is a conviction for 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(e) and 922(g), the defendant is an armed career criminal within the meaning of U.S.S.G. § 4Bl.4.” (Id. at ¶ 20.) The Probation Officer concluded that Williams' Guidelines' range was 188 to 235 months' imprisonment. (Id. at ¶ 57.) Williams' counsel filed objections the PSI. (Id. at p. 15.) Pertinently, she objected that the Probation Officer included Williams' January 5, 1982, conviction for assault in the list of his career offender predicate offenses. (Id.) Williams' counsel argued that, unlike the other four predicate convictions listed in the PSI, this fifth conviction had not been included in the Indictment. (Id.) Probation Officer Dixon responded that, while the Indictment listed four offenses that supported Williams' armed career criminal enhancement, this fifth offense also supported the classification, and it was appropriate for the Court to consider all of the prior convictions which supported the armed career criminal designation. (Id.)

         Williams appeared before the Honorable Anthony A. Alaimo for a sentencing hearing on December 18, 2006. (Doc. 126.) At that hearing, Judge Alaimo heard from Williams, Williams' counsel, and counsel for the Government. (Doc. 135-1.) Judge Alaimo asked Williams if he had any objections to the factual accuracy of the PSI, and Williams clarified that he was honorably discharged from the military. (Id. at pp. 3-4.) Williams also contested his guilt to the charge against him. (Id. at p. 4.) Williams' counsel objected that Williams' criminal history was being twice counted against him, as he had been convicted of being an armed career criminal and then given additional criminal history points under the Guidelines for the same criminal history. (Id. at p. 5.) Judge Alaimo overruled Williams' objection and incorporated the findings and statements in the addendum to the PSI. (Id.) Williams' counsel then argued for a sentence below the Guidelines' range. (Id. at pp. 6-9.) Counsel for the Government argued against this request and asked the Court to sentence Williams within the Guidelines. (Id. at pp. 9-11.) The Government's counsel laid out Williams' extensive criminal history to the Court, highlighting: his 1982 conviction for an assault inflicting serious injury with a knife; his 1985 arrest involving ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.