Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Beazer v. United States

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 6, 2019

HASAAN BEAZER, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES, Respondent

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          DOUGLAS P. WOODLOCK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter arises out of the 2014 conviction of the Petitioner, Hasaan Beazer, for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). On February 13, 2014, Mr. Beazer was sentenced to 15 years and 8 months in prison for that offense as an armed career criminal subject to the minimum mandatory sentencing enhancement imposed by the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”).

         In 2016, Mr. Beazer filed the present petition for habeas corpus to vacate and correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that, in light of Johnson v. United States (“Johnson II”), 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), he does not qualify as an armed career criminal and is entitled to resentencing.

         For the reasons stated below, the petition will be granted, and Mr. Beazer will be resentenced.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background.

         On April 23, 2014, Mr. Beazer was charged in a one count indictment with being a felon in possession of a firearm, specifically, a Walther PPK .380 caliber pistol and six rounds of .380 caliber ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Mr. Beazer pled guilty to the offense pursuant to a plea agreement.

         The Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) prepared by the Probation Office prior to sentencing found Mr. Beazer had three prior state convictions for either a violent felony or a serious drug offense, and therefore was an armed career criminal subject to a sentencing enhancement. In particular, the PSR listed the following convictions as predicate offenses for the purposes of the ACCA sentencing enhancement:

(1) June 26, 2007 convictions in Norfolk Superior Court for Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon, Simple Assault and Battery, Carjacking, and Armed Robbery. [PSR ¶ 32];
(2) August 20, 2007 convictions in New Bedford District Court for Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon and Simple Assault. [PSR ¶ 34]. The PSR also indicated that it considered another August 20, 2007 conviction for Assault with a Dangerous Weapon and a conviction for Simple Assault, part of the same incident and August 20, 2007 sentencing.[1] [PSR ¶ 33]; and,
(3) A February 11, 2013 conviction in Fall River District court for Possession with Intent to Distribute a Class B and Class E substance. [PSR ¶ 36].

         Mr. Beazer did not object to his classification as an armed career criminal under the ACCA, but argued that I should lower his criminal history category as an exercise of my discretion because his prior crimes were the result of his mental health issues, and because the mandatory minimum sentence imposed by ACCA was disproportionate to the severity of his offense. I rejected that argument and, on February 13, 2014, sentenced Mr. Beazer to 188 months incarceration, with credit for time served, and 3 years of supervised release. The sentence was tailored to reflect his status as an armed career criminal, the seriousness of the underlying offense, and his circumstances with respect to mental health and substance abuse.

         If Mr. Beazer had not been classified as an armed career criminal, he would have been subject, at most, to ten years incarceration - the statutory maximum penalty for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922 in the absence of the ACCA sentencing enhancement. See 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2).

         B. Procedural Background and the Present Petition

         1. The ACCA and the Supreme Court's Decision in Johnson II

         The ACCA directs imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years incarceration for “[any] person who violates section 922(g) . . . and has three previous convictions by any court . . . for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). Individuals who do not have three prior convictions and therefore do not qualify for the sentencing enhancement are subject to a maximum penalty of ten years incarceration for violations of 18 U.S.C. § 922. 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2).

         Under the statute, a “serious drug offense” includes any federal offense “under the Controlled Substances Act . . . the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act . . . or chapter 705 of Title 46” or any state offense “involving manufacturing, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or distribute, controlled substance” “for which a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or more is prescribed by law.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(A). The term “violent felony” is defined as any felony that either “(i) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threated use of physical force against the person of another; or (ii) is burglary, arson, or extortion, involves the use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B).

         In 2015, the Supreme Court in Johnson II concluded the last clause of 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B), known as the residual clause, was unconstitutionally vague. Johnson II, 135 at 2259. “[T]he residual clause, ” the Court held, “leaves grave uncertainty about how to estimate the risk posed by a crime” because it “ties the judicial assessment of risk to a judicially imagined ‘ordinary case' of a crime.” Id. It also “leaves uncertainty about how much risk it takes for a crime to qualify as a violent felony, ” especially because the residual clause required judges to apply “an imprecise ‘serious potential risk' standard” to “a judge-imagined abstraction.” Id. at 2558. However, the Court left in place both the first clause of section 924(e)(2)(B), known as the force clause, and the definition of a “serious drug offense” under section 924(e)(1).

         The following year, on April 18, 2016, the Court held that “Johnson [II] announced a substantive rule that has retroactive effect in cases on collateral review.” Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257, 1268 (2016).

         2. The Present Petition

         In his June 23, 2016 motion to vacate and correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, Mr. Beazer argues that he was improperly characterized as an armed career criminal under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) because certain prior convictions were no longer valid predicate offenses for the purposes of ACCA.

         II. THE DRUG OFFENSE

         In addition to his claims for relief under Johnson II, which I address in Section III below, Mr. Beazer also argues that his February 11, 2013 conviction for Possession with Intent to Distribute Crack Cocaine, should not be considered a predicate offense under ACCA. Mr. Beazer concedes that this particular basis for relief does not flow from Johnson II, but instead presents it as an alternative.

         For the reasons set forth below, I find both that this argument is barred and that, even if not barred, it fails on the merits. Mr. Beazer's February 11, 2013 conviction for Possession with Intent to Distribute Crack Cocaine was properly classified as a predicate offense under ACCA and his belated effort to assert this claim is unavailing.

         A. Threshold Barriers.

         Mr. Beazer's contention that his drug conviction was not properly counted as an ACCA predicate is both untimely and procedurally defaulted.

         1. Timeliness

         Under federal law, an individual seeking habeas relief must bring his claim within a one-year statutory limitations period that runs from the latest of:

(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final; (2) the date on which the impediment to making a motion created by governmental action . . . is removed; (3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review; or (4) the date on which facts supporting the claim . . . could have been discovered.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(f).

         Here, Mr. Beazer filed his petition for habeas relief with respect to the classification of his drug conviction on June 23, 2016, more than one year after his conviction and sentence in federal court became final on February 13, 2014. [Dkt. No. 41]. What is more, while Johnson announced a new rule of constitutional law with retroactive effect, see Welch, 136 S.Ct. at 1268, its holding did not implicate the definition of a “serious drug offense” under ACCA. It certainly did not recognize a right that is applicable to any drug offense claim. Consequently, the one-year limitations period for this claim did not reset on June 26, 2015, when Johnson II was announced; nor did it reset on April 18, 2016, when Johnson II was made retroactively applicable on collateral review. Id.

         Mr. Beazer has made no contention here that he was somehow impeded from bringing this claim earlier by some action or omission on the part of the Government; nor does he allege any newly discovered facts that would affect his claim.

         I conclude Mr. Beazer's claim with respect to his drug conviction is therefore barred by the one-year limitations ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.