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United States v. Washington

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

September 29, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DEJAUN PIERRE DARKYSE WASHINGTON, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Patrick J. Schiltz United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on defendant Dejaun Pierre Darkyse Washington's motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See ECF Nos. 350, 362, 385.[1] Washington argues that his sentence should be corrected because (1) he was improperly classified as a career offender, and (2) he should have been granted a minor-role reduction under Amendment 794 to Section 3B1.2 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. The Court disagrees on both counts and thus denies Washington's § 2255 motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Washington pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine base in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2 and 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C). See ECF Nos. 109, 161-62. Washington had prior felony convictions for simple robbery (Minn. Stat. § 609.24) and first-degree assault (Minn. Stat. § 609.221, subd. 1). PSR ¶¶ 76-77. The parties agreed that both of these convictions were crimes of violence for purposes of § 4B1.2(a). Based on this conclusion, the parties further agreed that Washington qualified as a career offender under § 4B1.1. See Plea Agreement ¶ 7(a); PSR ¶ 9. The Court concluded that Washington's total offense level was 29 (after applying a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility); that his criminal history category was VI; and that his Guidelines range was 151 to 188 months. The Court then varied downward and sentenced Washington to 120 months in prison. ECF No. 319 at 2; ECF No. 320 at 1. Four months later, Washington brought this § 2255 motion.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Career Offender

         Washington's first claim is that he was improperly classified as a career offender when he was sentenced. The Court rejects this claim for two reasons.

         First, this claim is not cognizable under § 2255. Section 2255 does not provide a remedy for “all claimed errors in conviction and sentencing.” Sun Bear v. United States, 644 F.3d 700, 704 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc) (quoting United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979)). Rather, its text allows federal prisoners to challenge a sentence that “was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that . . .was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). This language “provides a remedy for jurisdictional and constitutional errors” that would “inherently result[] in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Sun Bear, 644 F.3d at 704 (quoting Addonizio, 442 U.S. at 185). But “ordinary questions of guideline interpretation” generally “may not be re-litigated under § 2255, ” as long as the defendant's sentence does not “exceed[] the statutory maximum for the offense of conviction.” Id. at 704-06 (citations omitted).

         Washington's sentence of 120 months was well beneath the 20-year statutory maximum for his offense. Therefore, to the extent that his first claim alleges that the Court erred in calculating his Guidelines range, this claim is not cognizable under § 2255.

         Second, even if this claim were cognizable under § 2255, it would fail on the merits. Washington argues that his simple robbery conviction does not qualify as a “crime of violence” under § 4B1.2's residual clause, see ECF No. 350 at 13-14 (citing Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 2556-63 (2015)), or as an enumerated offense under the commentary to the 2015 version of § 4B1.2, see ECF No. 385 at 1 (citing United States v. Bell, 840 F.3d 963, 967-69 (8th Cir. 2016)). Earlier this year, however, the Supreme Court held that the residual clause of § 4B1.2-unlike the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act-was not subject to vagueness challenges under the Due Process Clause. Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886, 892-95 (2017). In addition-and independent of the question of whether simple robbery under Minnesota law qualifies as a “crime of violence” under the residual clause or qualifies as an enumerated offense under the commentary to § 4B1.2-simple robbery under Minnesota law is a “crime of violence” under § 4B1.2's force clause. See United States v. Jennings, 860 F.3d 450, 452-57 (7th Cir. 2017); United States v. Taylor, No. 15-CR-0091(1) (JNE/LIB), 2017 WL 506253, at *3-7 (D. Minn. Feb. 7, 2017) (explaining why robbery under Minn. Stat. § 609.24 necessarily involves “violent” force). Therefore, the Court did not err when it treated Washington's simple robbery conviction as a “crime of violence” under the Guidelines for sentencing purposes.

         B. Amendment 794

         Washington also argues that he should have been granted a minor-role reduction under Amendment 794 to § 3B1.2. The Court rejects this claim for two reasons.

         First, a claim arguing for retroactive application of Amendment 794 must be brought as a § 3582 motion, not a § 2255 motion. See United States v. Bazaldua, No. 06-CR-0100 (JNE/JSM), 2016 WL 5858634, at *2 (D. Minn. Oct. 5, 2016). Such claims are not cognizable under § 2255. Id.

         Second, even if the Court were to construe Washington's claim as a § 3582 motion, it would still fail. The Court can lower Washington's sentence under § 3582(c)(2) only if Washington was “sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 994(o) . . . after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to the extent that they are applicable, if such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.” 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) (emphasis added). Washington was sentenced on February 24, 2016, several months after Amendment 794 took effect on November 1, 2015. See ECF No. 319; cf. ECF No. 243 ¶ 52 (noting that “[t]he 2015 Guidelines Manual, incorporating all guideline amendments, was used to determine the defendant's offense level” (emphasis added)); 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(4)(A)(ii) (requiring courts to use the Guidelines that ...


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