United States District Court, D. Minnesota
M. Hollenhorst, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, for
S. Becker, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL DEFENDER, for defendant.
Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge
2007, Defendant Antoine Marcell Fickas pleaded guilty to
conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to
distribute methamphetamine. The Court determined that Fickas
qualified as a career offender for purposes of § 4B1.1
of the United States Sentencing Guidelines because the
offense of conviction was a controlled- substance offense and
because Fickas had at least two prior felony convictions of
either a crime of violence or a controlled-substance offense.
See PSR ¶ 32. With a total offense level of 34
and a criminal-history category of VI, Fickas's
Guidelines range was 262 to 327 months imprisonment.
Id. ¶ 110. Fickas also faced a mandatory
minimum sentence of 240 months. Id. ¶ 109. The
Court granted the Government's motion for a downward
departure pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e) and U.S.S.G.
§ 5K1.1, and sentenced Fickas to 165 months. ECF No. 66.
Fickas did not appeal.
matter is before the Court on Fickas's motion under 28
U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his
sentence. ECF No. 72. The Court has reviewed Fickas's
motion and the record of prior proceedings in this case, as
required by Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255
Proceedings for the United States District Courts. Because
the record conclusively demonstrates that Fickas is not
entitled to relief, no hearing is necessary. 28 U.S.C. §
2255(b); Noe v. United States, 601 F.3d 784, 792
(8th Cir. 2010).
argues that recent case law-specifically, Johnson v.
United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015)-rendered the
residual clause of the career-offender sentencing Guidelines
(U.S.S.G. §§ 4B1.1, 4B1.2) void for vagueness and
therefore unconstitutional. See ECF No. 72 at 6-9.
Based on that argument, Fickas contends that he was
improperly sentenced because the Court relied upon the
residual clause when determining whether his prior
convictions constituted “crimes of violence” for
the purposes of calculating his applicable Guidelines range.
See Id. at 4-5, 9-15. On July 18, 2016, the Court
stayed this action pending the Supreme Court's decision
in Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017),
which addressed the very question raised by Fickas's
motion. ECF No. 74. The Beckles decision was issued
on March 6, 2017. Accordingly, the Court now lifts the stay
in this matter.
Supreme Court's decision in Beckles rejects
Fickas's argument that Johnson applies to the
career-offender Guidelines. See Beckles, 137 S.Ct.
at 892 (holding that “the [Sentencing] Guidelines are
not subject to a vagueness challenge under the Due Process
Clause. The residual clause in § 4B1.2(a)(2) therefore
is not void for vagueness.”). Because Beckles
forecloses Fickas's argument that the residual clause of
§ 4B1.2 is unconstitutionally vague, his
Johnson claim is meritless, and his § 2255
motion is denied.
motion also mentions “Amendment 782, ” the United
States Sentencing Commissionʹs 2014 amendment to the
drug-offense Guideline. ECF No. 72 at 4; see also
U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(d), app. C amend. 782. Just to avoid
any misunderstanding: Amendment 782 does not lower
Fickas's Guidelines range, and therefore does not give
the Court authority to reduce his sentence.
18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), a sentence reduction is
authorized only “if such a reduction is consistent with
applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing
Commission.” See also Dillon v. United States,
560 U.S. 817, 826 (2010). One of those policy
statements-U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(a)(2)(B)-provides that
“[a] reduction in the defendantʹs term of
imprisonment is not consistent with this policy statement and
therefore is not authorized under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2)
if . . . an amendment [to the guidelines] . . . does not have
the effect of lowering the defendantʹs applicable
guideline range.” An application note to § 1B1.10
elaborates that an amendment to the guidelines-such as
Amendment 782-can fail to lower a defendantʹs Guidelines
range “because of the operation of another guideline .
. . .” U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10 cmt. n. 1(A).
precisely why Amendment 782 does not lower Fickas's
Guidelines range. Again, Fickas was sentenced under the
career-offender Guideline (§ 4B1.1(b)), and that
Guideline “trumps” the drug-offense Guideline
(§ 2D1.1) that was lowered by Amendment 782. Thus, the
career-offender Guideline prevents Amendment 782 from
reducing the Guidelines range of a career offender such as
Fickas. See United States v. Thomas, 775 F.3d 982,
982-83 (8th Cir. 2014) (per curiam) (“. . . Amendment
782 amended § 2D1.1. It did not lower the sentencing
range established for a career offender by §
on the foregoing, and on all of the files, records, and
proceedings herein, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
stay imposed in this matter [ECF No. 74] is LIFTED.
Fickas's motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ...