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Washington v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division

July 7, 2017

JEFFERY J. WASHINGTON, 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 Jeffery J. Washington's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [#44] and Memorandum of Law [#45] in support. Having reviewed the documents, the governing law, and the file as a whole, the Court now enters the following opinion and orders.

         Background

         On May 27, 2015, Movant Jeffery J. Washington pleaded guilty to a one count superseding information, charging him with possession with intent to distribute a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841. When this Court calculated Washington's sentencing range under the federal sentencing guidelines, it increased Washington's adjusted offense level because the Court concluded Washington 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, Washington was at least 18 years old at the time he committed the offense charged in the superseding information, and that offense constitutes a "controlled substance offense" within the meaning of the federal sentencing guidelines. Washington 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), Washington had two prior felony convictions for delivery of a controlled substance in violation of Texas law, which the PSR concluded constituted "controlled substance offenses" under the federal sentencing guidelines. Based on a total offense level of 29 and a criminal history category of VI, the guidelines range for imprisonment was 151 to 188 months. On September 4, 2015, the Court entered its judgment sentencing Washington to a 151-month term of imprisonment, followed by a 3-year term of supervised release. Washington did not appeal his sentence.

         On May 23, 2017, Washington executed the instant § 2255 motion, arguing 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). Specifically, Washington argues these cases demonstrate his sentence was improperly calculated because his prior Texas convictions for delivery of a controlled substance do not qualify as predicate offenses under the federal sentencing guidelines.

         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, 81F.3dat558.

         II. ...


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