United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S HABEAS CORPUS
VICTORIA A. ROBERTS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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.
§ 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.
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).
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).
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.
Clark's Petition is Timely
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.
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.