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Fleming v. United States

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

December 7, 2017

Anthony LaJuan Fleming, Petitioner,
United States of America, Respondent.


          Gershwin A Drain U.S. District Court Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Presently before the Court is Petitioner's Motion to Vacate Judgment Pursuant to Rule 59(e). Petitioner asserts that the Court should vacate its judgment denying relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny Petitioner's Motion.

         II. Factual Background

         Petitioner Anthony LaJuan Fleming was indicted on two counts of distributing cocaine base in June 2008. Dkt. No. 3. On August 15, 2008, Fleming pleaded guilty to Count Two-distribution of 50 or more grams of cocaine base- and the Government agreed to dismiss Count One. Dkt. No. 19. Fleming's counsel objected to whether Fleming's prior conviction for fleeing constituted a crime of violence under the guidelines. See Dkt. No. 25, p. 6, 14 (Pg. ID No. 65, 73). Fleming was sentenced to 290 months imprisonment on December 5, 2008. Dkt. No. 20, p. 2 (Pg. ID No. 50).

         Fleming filed a Notice of Appeal to the Sixth Circuit concerning his Judgment and Sentence on January 6, 2009. Dkt. No. 21. The Sixth Circuit dismissed the appeal, stating that Fleming's sentence was within the agreed sentencing range. Dkt. No. 29. The Sixth Circuit also noted that Fleming knowingly and voluntarily entered a guilty plea. Id.

         On January 8, 2016, Petitioner filed a Motion to Vacate Sentence Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Dkt. No. 36. On June 28, 2016, the Court granted Petitioner's Motion to Vacate. Dkt. No. 43. However, the Court granted the Government's request to stay resentencing until the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017). Dkt. No. 48. After the Supreme Court rendered a decision in Beckles, the Court ordered supplemental briefing from the parties to address the new precedent Beckles set. Dkt. No. 51. The Court then reevaluated its decision to vacate Petitioner's sentence. On July 25, 2017, this Court denied Petitioner's Supplemental Motion to Vacate Sentence, and vacated its previous Order to Vacate. Dkt. No. 58. On August 15, 2017, Petitioner filed the present Motion asking the Court to reconsider its decision to deny Petitioner's Motion to Vacate Sentence.

         III. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) governs motions to alter or amend a judgment. A court may alter the judgment under Rule 59 based on: “(1) a clear error of law; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) an intervening change in controlling law; or (4) a need to prevent manifest injustice.” Leisure Caviar, LLC v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 616 F.3d 612, 615 (6th Cir. 2010).

         IV. Discussion

         Petitioner argues that this Court should alter its July 25, 2017 judgment based on a clear error of law. See Dkt. No. 60, pg. 3 (Pg. ID 261). Petitioner first challenges this Court's previous order denying his motion to vacate sentence stating that the court committed legal error. Id.

         Petitioner argues that this Court erred in finding that he could not proceed with his claim of “newly discovered facts” under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(4). Id. In his June 5, 2017 Motion to Vacate, Petitioner cited case law from the United States Supreme Court, stating that the holdings in those cases changed the legal consequences of known facts.[1] Dkt. No. 56, pg. 5-8 (Pg. ID 234-37). Petitioner then argued that under Phillips v. United States, these changes in the legal consequences of the known facts created new facts that this Court can review. 734 F.3d 573 (6th Cir. 2013); Id. This Court held that, under Phillips, citing case law did not present new facts. Dkt. No. 58, pg. 5 (Pg. ID 249). Therefore, citing the Supreme Court decisions did not constitute new facts. Id.

         Petitioner argues that a change in the legal consequences of knowns facts constitutes new facts under Phillips. Dkt. No. 56, pg. 5 (Pg. ID 234). However, the Phillips holding does not state this proposition. See Phillips, 734 F.3d at 580-83. This Court considered all of the United States Supreme Court cases that Petitioner cited in his June 5, 2017 Motion to Vacate. Dkt. No. 58, pg. 5 n.1 (Pg. ID 249) (referencing the various Supreme Court cases Petitioner cited). This Court then held that the cited precedent does not equate to new facts. Id. This Court correctly followed Phillips. It was correct in holding that the discovery of new judicial precedent does not constitute newly discovered facts.

         More specifically, Petitioner states Johnson v. United States held that a vacated prior state conviction presents a new fact. 544 U.S. 295, 304-05 (2005); Dkt. No. 60, pg. 3 (Pg. ID 261). Petitioner then argues that the rule changes in Descamps and Mathis operate as the functional equivalent of having a prior conviction vacated. Id. Therefore, this Court should have more carefully considered Petitioner's citations to Descamps and Mathis. Id. In other words, Petitioner argues that Descamps and Mathis are the equivalent of a vacated state conviction because their holdings would vacate Petitioner's conviction. Therefore, the holdings in Descamps and Mathis should constitute new facts that this Court can consider. This argument is too indirect. Success in having a prior state ...

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