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Dawson v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Texas

April 11, 2017

DARRELL DWAYNE DAWSON, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ORDER

          SAM SPARKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         BE IT REMEMBERED on this day the Court reviewed the file in the above-styled cause, and specifically Movant Darrell Dwayne Dawson's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [#36], the Government's Response [#39], and Dawson's Reply [#40]. Having considered the documents, the governing law, and the file as a whole, the Court now enters the following opinion and orders.

         Background

         On May 25, 2012, Dawson pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base, a controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B) (Count Two). When this Court calculated Dawson's sentencing range under the federal sentencing guidelines, it increased Dawson's adjusted offense level because Dawson qualified as a career offender. To qualify as a "career offender" under the federal sentencing guidelines, the following factors must be met:

(1) The defendant was at least 18 years old at the time the defendant committed the instant offense of conviction;
(2) The instant offense of conviction is a felony that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense; and
(3) the defendant has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime or violence or a controlled substance offense.

U.S.S.G. §4Bl.l(a).

         In this case, Dawson was at least 18 years old at the time he committed the offenses charged in the two-count indictment, and Count Two constitutes a "controlled substance offense" within the meaning of the federal sentencing guidelines. Dawson was therefore subject to career offender enhancement if he had "at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense." See Id. According to the presentence report (PSR), Dawson had two prior felony convictions for delivery of a controlled substance under the Texas Penal Code, which the PSR concluded constituted a "controlled substance offense" under the federal sentencing guidelines. Based on a total offense level of 31 and a criminal history category of VI, the guidelines range for imprisonment was 188 to 235 months. On August 1, 2012, the Court entered its judgment sentencing Dawson to a 235-month term of imprisonment, followed by a 4-year term of supervised release. Dawson did not appeal his sentence.

         On January 25, 2017, Dawson executed the instant § 2255 motion, raising two grounds for relief. First, Dawson argues his sentence is invalid in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), and the Fifth Circuit's subsequent opinions in Hinkle v. United States, 832 F.3d 569 (5th Cir. 2016), and United States v. Tanksley, 848 F.3d 347 (5th Cir. 2017), where the Fifth Circuit held Texas convictions for delivery of a controlled substance do not qualify as predicate offenses under the federal sentencing guidelines. Second, Dawson contends this Court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to enhance his sentence because the enhancement was based on an unconstitutional predicate offense. The parties fully briefed the motion, and it is now ripe for the Court's review.

         Analysis

         I. Legal Standard

         Generally, there are four grounds upon which a defendant may move to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255: (1) the imposition of a sentence in violation of the Constitution or the laws of the United States; (2) a lack of jurisdiction of the District Court that imposed the sentence; (3) the imposition of a sentence in excess of the maximum authorized by law; and (4) the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255; United States v. Placente, 81 F.3d 555, 558 (5th Cir. 1996). Section 2255 is an extraordinary measure; it cannot be used for errors that are not constitutional or jurisdictional if those errors could have been raised on direct appeal. United States v. Stumpf, 900 F.2d 842, 845 (5th Cir. 1990). If the error is not of constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude, the movant must show the error could not have been raised on direct appeal and would, if condoned, "result in a complete miscarriage of justice." United States v. Smith, 32 F.3d 194, 196 (5th Cir. 1994). In addition, a defendant who raises a constitutional or jurisdictional issue for the first time on collateral review must show both "cause" for his procedural default, and "actual prejudice" resulting from the error. Placente, 81 F.3d at 558.

         II. ...


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