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United States v. Eason

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 4, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
YOBARRI TAKIE EASON, Defendant.

          YOBARRI TAKIE EASON, PRO SE.

          THOMAS M. HOLLENHORST, ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, FOR PLAINTIFF.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO VACATE, SET ASIDE, OR CORRECT SENTENCE

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         Yobarri Takie Eason is currently serving a 220-month term of imprisonment for drug and gun-possession convictions. Eason filed the present 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion after the Eighth Circuit granted his request to file a second or successive petition. Eason's current motion challenges his sentence under Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). Because the Court finds Johnson does not affect Eason's concurrent sentence for possession with intent to distribute fifty grams or more of cocaine base, the Court will deny Eason's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         In July 2008, Eason pleaded guilty to Count 1, for possession with intent to distribute fifty grams or more of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A), and Count 5, for being an armed career criminal in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(e)(1). (Plea Agreement ¶¶ 1(d), 2(a)-2(b), July 17, 2008, Docket No. 19.) Through his plea agreement, Eason also waived his right to appeal his sentence so long as he was sentenced to less than 327 months imprisonment. (Id. ¶ 18.)

         Prior to sentencing, the probation office determined that Eason was a career offender under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual (“U.S.S.G.”) § 4B1.1 and that he was an armed career criminal under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) and U.S.S.G. § 4B1.4. (Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) ¶¶ 23-24 (on file with the Court).) The probation office based these findings on Eason's prior Minnesota convictions for simple robbery and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, as well as a juvenile adjudication for aggravated robbery. (Id.) Eason did not object to the probation office's findings prior to or at Eason's sentencing.

         At Eason's sentencing hearing, held on February 10, 2009, the Court adopted the probation office's findings. (See Ct. Min., Feb. 10, 2009, Docket No. 23.) The Court applied the career-offender Guidelines provision, finding a total offense level of 34 and a criminal history category of VI, resulting in a Guidelines range of 262 to 327 months. The Court varied downward and sentenced Eason to 220 months imprisonment on each count, to run concurrently, followed by five years of supervised release on each count, to run concurrently. (J. in a Crim. Case, Feb. 12, 2009, Docket No. 24.)

         On June 26, 2014, Eason filed his first § 2255 motion, in which he relied on Descamps v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013), to argue that his juvenile adjudication did not qualify as a predicate offense to qualify him as an armed career criminal. (Mot. to Remand for Resentencing, June 26, 2014, Docket No. 29.) The Court denied Eason's motion on several grounds. See United States v. Eason, No. 08-123, 2014 WL 6865444 (D. Minn. Dec. 3, 2014). The Court found that Eason's claim was procedurally defaulted because he did not previously appeal, Eason could not rely on Descamps because it did not announce a newly recognized right, Eason would still qualify as an armed career criminal even applying Descamps, and, finally, Eason's challenge was barred by the concurrent-sentence doctrine because Eason did not challenge his sentence for Count 1, which was ordered to run concurrently. Id.

         On February 24, 2016, Eason filed a request for permission to file a second or successive § 2255 motion with the Eighth Circuit, relying on Johnson. (See Mot. to Vacate at 1, Sept. 14, 2016, Docket No. 46.) On September 14, 2016, the Eighth Circuit granted Eason's request and transferred Eason's motion to the Court. (J., Sept. 14, 2016, Docket No. 44.) The government opposes Eason's § 2255 motion.

         ANALYSIS

         Section 2255 permits a prisoner to move the court that sentenced him to “vacate, set aside or correct the sentence” on the grounds that “the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). “Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is reserved for transgressions of constitutional rights and for a narrow range of injuries that could not have been raised on direct appeal and, if uncorrected, would result in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Walking Eagle v. United States, 742 F.3d 1079, 1081-82 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting United States v. Apfel, 97 F.3d 1074, 1076 (8th Cir. 1996)).

         A § 2255 claim can address those arguments not properly preserved at trial or on direct appeal only if the petitioner can show either cause and prejudice from the claimed legal error or that he or she is actually innocent. Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 622-23 (1998). The government contends Eason failed to show either cause and prejudice or actual innocence as required to assert a § 2255 claim.

         The fact that an appeal would have been futile under then-existing case law does not always prevent procedural default. See Lindsey v. United States, 615 F.3d 998, 1000- 01 (8th Cir. 2010) (holding that the defendant was barred procedurally from claiming his conviction for driving under the influence was not a “violent felony, ” even though the Supreme Court ruling in Begay v. United States, 553 U.S. 137 (2008), supported his motion). But the Supreme Court has stated that “a claim that ‘is so novel that its legal basis is not reasonably ...


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