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Sandlain v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

May 11, 2017

Blake Joseph Sandlain, Petitioner,
v.
United States of America, Respondent.

          R. Steven Whalen United States Magistrate Judge

         OPINION AND ORDER: (1) DENYING PETITIONER'S SECOND OR SUCCESSIVE HABEAS PETITION [89]; (2) DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO SUPPLEMENT [102]; (3) DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION UNDER FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 60(B)(3) [103]; (4) DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTIONS UNDER FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 60(B)(5) [104, 105]; AND (5) GRANTING PETITIONER'S MOTION TO STRIKE DOCKET ENTRY 106 [107]

          HON. GERSHWIN A. DRAIN United States District Court Judge

         I. Introduction

         Blake Joseph Sandlain, an incarcerated person proceeding pro se, plead guilty to two felonies and is currently serving his sentence in Leavenworth, Kansas. Pending before the Court is Sandlain's second or successive habeas petition, which was held in abeyance pending the Supreme Court's decision in Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 866 (2017). On March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court decided Beckles. Since then, Mr. Sandlain has filed six motions: a Motion to Supplement, which the Court construes as a motion to amend his second or successive habeas petition, and five motions involving Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 60(b)(3) and 60(b)(5). For the following reasons, the Court will deny Mr. Sandlain's second or successive habeas petition, deny Mr. Sandlain's Motion to Supplement, and deny Mr. Sandlain's claims under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60.

         II. Factual Background

         On April 28, 2014, a federal grand jury indicted Blake Joseph Sandlain (“Petitioner” or “Mr. Sandlain”) for: (1) being a felon in possession of a firearm; (2) possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance; (3) maintaining drug-involved premises; and (4) using a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Dkt. No. 7. On January 8, 2015, Mr. Sandlain entered into a plea agreement, which the Court accepted. Dkt. No. 44. The Court sentenced Mr. Sandlain to 180 months imprisonment and supervised release for three years. Dkt. No. 73. Mr. Sandlain did not appeal.

         On August 7, 2015, Mr. Sandlain moved to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See Dkt. No. 55. This Court dismissed Mr. Sandlain's Section 2255 motion with prejudice and did not issue a certificate of appealability. Dkt. No. 72. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit denied Mr. Sandlain's application for a certificate of appealability and denied his motion to appoint counsel. Dkt. No. 80. In its opinion, the Sixth Circuit indicated that “Sandlain's classification as a career offender during his sentencing proceedings might be affected by Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015)[.]” Id. On June 22, 2016, Mr. Sandlain filed an Application for Leave to File a Second of Successive habeas petition. Dkt. No. 87. Based on Johnson, the Sixth Circuit authorized Mr. Sandlain to file a second habeas motion because Mr. Sandlain “may be entitled to relief from his career offender designation[.]” Dkt. No. 84.

         III. Discussion

         A. Johnson, Beckles and Mr. Sandlain's Second or Successive Habeas Petition

         Mr. Sandlain's Application for Leave to File a Second or Successive § 2255 Motion contained only one ground on which he claimed that he was being held unlawfully: his classification as a career offender. Dkt. No. 87, p. 5 (Pg. ID 580). In support of his application, Mr. Sandlain acknowledged that his renewed § 2255 Motion relied on Johnson. Id. Mr. Sandlain argues that, in light of Johnson, his classification as a career offender was unconstitutional. Id. Therefore, Mr. Sandlain moves the Court to grant his renewed § 2255 motion and conduct resentencing.

         The Supreme Court's opinion in Beckles, however, forbids Mr. Sandlain's desired result. Mr. Sandlain was sentenced in 2015. At that time, the Sentencing Guidelines which were in effect, provided that, “[a] defendant is a career offender if:

(1) the defendant was at least eighteen years old at the time the defendant committed the instant offense of conviction; (2) the instant offense of conviction is a felony that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense; and (3) the defendant has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense.

U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(a), dated November 1, 2014 (emphasis added).

         The Guidelines define “crime of violence” as:

any offense under federal or state law, punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, that-(1) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another, or (2) is burglary of a dwelling, arson, or extortion, involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.

U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a), dated November 1, 2014 (emphasis added). The clause beginning with “or otherwise” in the § 4B1.2(a) definition above is the residual clause. Mr. Sandlain was sentenced as a career offender based in part on the residual clause in the Sentencing Guidelines.

         There is an identical residual clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”). Johnson held that the residual clause in the ACCA was unconstitutionally vague in the way it fixed a higher range of sentences for certain defendants. See Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2555, 2563. As of result of Johnson, defendants sentenced under the now-void residual clause in the ACCA have been granted resentencing. However, despite the identical language, the Supreme Court in Beckles rejected adopting Johnson's reasoning to the Sentencing Guidelines. The Supreme Court distinguished the ACCA from the Guidelines:

Unlike the ACCA, however, the advisory Guidelines do not fix the permissible range of sentences. To the contrary, they merely guide the exercise of a court's discretion in choosing an appropriate sentence within the statutory range. Accordingly, the Guidelines are not subject to a vagueness challenge under the Due Process Clause. The residual clause in § 4B1.2(a)(2) therefore is not void for vagueness.

Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886, 892 (2017). Mr. Sandlain was sentenced pursuant to the Sentencing Guidelines, not pursuant to the ACCA. Therefore, because Johnson does not apply to the Sentencing Guidelines, Mr. Sandlain's reliance on Johnson (and implicitly Beckles) is misplaced. ...


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