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United States v. Kornacki

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

August 2, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DOUGLAS MICHAEL KORNACKI, Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO VACATE SENTENCE PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Dkt. 112)

          MARK A. GOLDSMITH United States District Judge

         On September 27, 2006, Defendant Douglas Michael Kornacki pleaded guilty to two counts of using, carrying, and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). See Plea Agreement (Dkt. 102). He was sentenced to 420 month's imprisonment on February 8, 2007. 2/9/2007 Judgment (Dkt. 107). More than twelve years later, he filed the instant motion, seeking to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255 (Dkt. 112). For the reasons that follow, Kornacki's motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Kornacki was charged with bank robbery, 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a); robbery affecting commerce, 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a); felon in possession of a firearm, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1); receipt and possession of a stolen firearm, 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(j) and 924(a)(2); possession of an unregistered firearm, 26 U.S.C. §§ 5841, 4861(d), and 587; and three counts of violating § 924(c). Superseding Indictment (Dkt. 24).

         Kornacki agreed to plead guilty to two violations of § 924(c) in exchange for dismissal of the remaining counts. See Plea Agreement.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This motion is brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which provides in pertinent part:

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

28 U.S.C. § 2255.

         To prevail on a § 2255 motion, “a petitioner must demonstrate the existence of an error of constitutional magnitude which has a substantial and injurious effect or influence on the guilty plea or the jury's verdict.” Humphress v. United States, 398 F.3d 855, 858 (6th Cir. 2005). Non-constitutional errors are generally outside the scope of § 2255 relief. See United States v. Cofield, 233 F.3d 405, 407 (6th Cir. 2000). A movant can prevail on a § 2255 motion alleging non-constitutional error only by establishing “a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice, or an error so egregious that it amounts to a violation of due process.” Watson v. United States, 175 F.3d 486, 488 (6th Cir. 1999).

         A court should grant a hearing to determine the issues and make findings of fact and conclusions of law on a § 2255 motion “[u]nless the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). No evidentiary hearing is required if the petitioner's allegations “cannot be accepted as true because they are contradicted by the record, inherently incredible, or conclusions rather than statements of fact.” Valentine v. United States, 488 F.3d 325, 333 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Arredondo v. United States, 178 F.3d 778, 782 (6th Cir. 1999)). “If it plainly appears from the motion, any attached exhibits, and the record of prior proceedings that the moving party is not entitled to relief, the judge must dismiss the motion.” Rules Governing § 2255 Cases, Rule 4(b).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Kornacki asserts three grounds for relief in his motion.[1] Grounds one and three are essentially the same claim: his convictions under § 924(c) should be vacated in light of recent decisions issued by the Supreme Court. Section 924(c) prohibits the use or carrying of a firearm “during and in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime[.]” 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). A “crime of violence” is an offense that is a felony and “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another, ” (the “elements clause”), or “that by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense, ” (the “residual clause”). Id. § 924(c)(3)(A-B).

         Kornacki's original motion relies on the Supreme Court's recent decisions in Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S.Ct. 1204 (2018), and Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), to argue that the residual clause of § 924(c) is unconstitutional. While neither of these decisions addressed § 924(c) directly, the Supreme Court did address the constitutionality of § 924(c)(3)(B) after briefing on Kornacki's motion concluded, ...


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