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United States v. Thomas

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

November 19, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
Jabron Thomas, Defendant/Petitioner.

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

          SEAN F. COX UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Acting pro se, Petitioner Jabron Thomas filed this habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255[1], asserting that he is entitled to relief from his convictions for one count of armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d), and one count of using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Thomas argues that he is entitled to relief because the Supreme Court recently invalidated § 924(c)(3)'s residual clause as unconstitutionally vague. See United States v. Davis, 139 S.Ct. 2319, 2324 (June 24, 2019). Because the files and records of the case conclusively show that Thomas 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

         On December 21, 2015, a jury convicted Thomas of one count of armed bank robbery, one count of using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and one count of being a felon-in-possession of a firearm. (ECF No. 65). On May 11, 2019, the Court sentenced Thomas to a total term of imprisonment of 180 months. (ECF No. 90).

         On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit vacated Thomas's felon-in-possession conviction, finding that there was insufficient evidence to support that charge. (ECF No. 97). On remand, the Court re-sentenced Thomas to a total term of imprisonment of 162 months. (ECF No. 105).

         On August 23, 2019, Thomas filed a motion to vacate his § 924(c) conviction in light of the Supreme Court's ruling in Davis. (ECF No. 111). In his motion, Thomas argues that he is entitled to relief “since this Petitioner's 924(c) count falls under the 924(c)(3)(B) residual clause, ” which the Davis Court invalidated as unconstitutionally vague. (ECF No. 111, PageID 1623).

         On September 26, 2019, the Government filed a response in opposition to Thomas's motion. The Government argues that the constitutionality of § 924(c)(3)'s residual clause is irrelevant to this case because Thomas's underlying predicate offense-armed bank robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d)-is a crime of violence under § 924(c)(3)'s elements clause and therefore still qualifies as a crime of violence.

         On October 10, 2019, Thomas filed a reply to the Government's response.[2]

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Court construes Thomas's motion as being brought under 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. App'x 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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