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United States v. Walker

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

August 30, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
Charles Albert Walker, Defendant/Petitioner.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING WALKER'S MOTION UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 2255 AND DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          Sean F. Cox, United States District Court Judge

         Acting pro se, Petitioner Charles Albert Walker filed this habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, asserting that he is entitled to relief from his convictions on three counts of aiding and abetting bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a), and two counts of using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Walker argues that he is entitled to relief because § 924(c)(3)'s residual clause is unconstitutionally vague. Because the files and records of the case conclusively show that Walker is not entitled to habeas relief, an evidentiary hearing is not necessary and the matter is ripe for the Court's decision. For the reasons below, the Court will deny the motion and decline to issue a certificate of appealability.

         BACKGROUND

         Over the course of a few months, Walker and his co-defendant robbed three Detroit-area banks at gun-point, making off with just over $190, 000. After leading police on a high-speed chase, Walker was arrested and indicted on bank robbery and gun charges. (ECF No. 41).

         On February 24, 2016, Walker pleaded guilty, pursuant to a Rule 11 plea agreement, to three counts of aiding and abetting bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a), and two counts of using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). (ECF No. 53). On July 8, 2016, the Court sentenced Walker to a total term of imprisonment of 462 months. (ECF No. 68).

         On July 21, 2016, Walker filed a notice of appeal. (ECF No. 69). On June 29, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dismissed Walker's appeal because of the appellate waiver contained in Walker's Rule 11 plea agreement. (ECF No. 83).

         On January 23, 2019, Walker filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (ECF No. 96). In his motion, Walker argues that § 924(c)(3)'s definition of “crime of violence” is unconstitutionally vague because it contains a “residual clause” that is identical to those invalidated by the Supreme Court in Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S.Ct. 1204 (2018) and Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). In passing, Walker also argues that he “may be entitled to some form of general relief” under the newly enacted First Step Act. (ECF No. 96, PageID 597).

         On March 25, 2019, the Government filed a response in opposition to Walker's motion. The Government argues that motion should be denied for two reasons. First, the Government contends that the motion is untimely. Second, the Government argues that the constitutionality of § 924(c)(3)'s residual clause is irrelevant to this case because the underlying predicate offense-bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a)-is a crime of violence under § 924(c)(3)'s elements clause and therefore still qualifies as a crime of violence. The Government also argues that the First Act does not apply retroactively.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Walker's motion is brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which provides:

A prisoner in custody under a sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence imposed was in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such a 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). 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, 165 F.3d 486, 488 (6th Cir. 1999).

         Defendants seeking to set aside their sentences pursuant to § 2255 have the burden of establishing their case by a preponderance of the evidence. McQueen v. U.S., 58 Fed.Appx. 73, 76 (6th Cir. 2003). When a defendant files a § 2255 motion, he or she must set forth facts establishing entitlement to relief. Green v. Wingo, 454 F.2d 52, 53 (6th Cir. 1972); O'Malley v. United States, 285 F.2d 733, 735 (6th Cir. 1961). “Conclusions, not substantiated by allegations of fact with some ...


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