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United States v. Clark

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

June 29, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
Ardale Clark, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S HABEAS CORPUS PETITION

          VICTORIA A. ROBERTS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Ardale Clark filed a Pro se 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition for a writ of Habeas Corpus on January 10th, 2018. Clark contests the 106 month sentence he received following his plea of guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime (18 U.S.C. § 924(c)). Clark argues the 2017 Supreme Court decision, Dean v. United States, requires this Court to resentence him, applying the rule announced in Dean retroactively. For the reasons outlined below, Clark's motion is denied.

         II. Factual Background

         Clark's § 924(c) conviction carried a 60 month mandatory minimum sentence. When determining the length of Clark's § 841(a)(1) sentence, this Court followed Sixth Circuit precedent, U.S. v. Franklin, 622 F.3d 650 (6th Cir. 2010), and did not consider the possibility of giving Clark concurrent sentences or a shorter § 841(a)(1) sentence to offset the 60 month sentence already imposed. However, in Dean, the Supreme Court held that sentencing courts can exercise discretion and consider § 924(c) mandatory minimums imposed when calculating an appropriate sentence for the predicate offense to avoid unduly long sentences. Dean v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 1170 (2017). Clark's habeas petition asserts that the rule in Dean “entitle[s]” him to have the § 841(a)(1) charge resentenced without the rule in Franklin preventing a concurrent or shorter § 841(a)(1) sentence. Id.

         Clark moves the court, in accordance with Teague v. Lane, to retroactively apply the rule in Dean to his sentence. Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989).

         III. Legal Standard

         This Court will conduct a de novo review of the legal issues raised in Petitioner's § 2255 motion. However, unless clearly erroneous, the factual findings of the trial court stand as true. U.S. v. Doyle, 631 F.3d 815, 817 (6th Cir. 2011). This Court will grant Clark's motion if he can demonstrate “(1) an error of constitutional magnitude; (2) a sentence imposed outside the statutory limits; or (3) an error of fact or law that was so fundamental as to render the entire proceeding invalid.” Whitsell v. United States, No. 17-cv-12691, 2018 WL 317869, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 8, 2018) (quoting Doyle, 631 F.3d at 817).

         IV. Discussion

         Clark argues that Dean demonstrates “an error of constitutional magnitude” existed in his case and requires this Court to vacate and resentence him in accordance with Teague. However, before this Court can review Clark's Teague argument, the Court must decide whether Clark's petition is even timely.

         A. Clark's Petition is Timely

         The Government says the Court should dismiss Clark's challenge to a sentence imposed nearly four years ago - well beyond the one year statute of limitations allowed in 2255(f)(1). Clark argues that § 2255's one-year statute of limitations does not bar his claim because of the doctrine of equitable tolling. Courts sparingly use equitable tolling in habeas cases and only when the statute of limitations has run.

         However, the Court need not reach the doctrine of equitable tolling because the statute of limitations under § 2255(f)(3) is not expired. § 2255(f)(3) provides that the one-year period of limitations can start on the date when the Supreme Court announced the rule Petitioner uses, if the rule is to apply retroactively. The Supreme Court decided Dean, the rule Petitioner uses as the basis for resentencing, on April 3rd, 2017. Clark filed on January 10th, 2018, making his Petition timely under § 2255(f)(3), if Dean is applied retroactively. The Court now considers the merits of Petitioner's argument on the retroactive applicability of Dean.

         B. Retroactive ...


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