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United States v. Scott

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

October 4, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
KAINUS SCOTT, Defendant.

          Jeffrey S. Paulsen, Assistant United States Attorney, for plaintiff.

          Kainus Scott, pro se defendant.

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

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE

         Kainus Scott is currently serving a 180-month mandatory-minimum sentence, imposed pursuant to the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). Scott seeks to vacate the sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that the Court imposed an illegal sentence because Scott's previous three convictions - two for second-degree assault and one for first-degree aggravated robbery - are not “violent felonies” for purposes of the ACCA. Scott also requests that the Court stay the proceedings in light of United States v. Pettis, No. 15-233, 2016 WL 5107035 (D. Minn. Sept. 19, 2016), appeal filed, No. 16-3988 (8th Cir. Oct. 20, 2016), which is currently pending with the Eighth Circuit, and which bears directly on whether a Minnesota conviction for first-degree aggravated robbery is a “violent felony” for purposes of the ACCA. In United States v. McClinton, No. 15-252, 2017 WL 3381817 (D. Minn. Aug. 4, 2017), a similar § 2255 matter, the Court stayed proceedings pending the Eighth Circuit's decision in Pettis.

         Although the Court will find that Scott's previous two convictions for second-degree assault are “violent felonies” for purposes of the ACCA, the Court will grant Scott's request to stay the proceedings pending the Eighth Circuit's decision in Pettis because the Eighth Circuit's decision might affect whether Scott's sentence comports with the ACCA.

         BACKGROUND

         On February 18, 2015, Scott pleaded guilty to one count of “being an Armed Career Criminal in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e)(1).” (Plea Agreement at 2-3, Feb. 18, 2015, Docket No. 31.) In the plea agreement, Scott acknowledged that he had two previous felony convictions for second-degree assault and one previous felony conviction for first-degree aggravated robbery. (Id. at 2.) No other convictions were identified that might qualify for a sentencing enhancement under the ACCA. (Id.; Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) ¶¶ 38-47 (on file with the Court).) The Court sentenced Scott to 180 months of imprisonment on November 3, 2015. (Sentencing J. at 1-2, Nov. 12, 2015, Docket No. 43.)

         On June 19, 2017, Scott filed a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.[1] Scott argues that his current 180-month sentence is illegal because he does not have three predicate violent felonies under the ACCA, and the maximum statutory penalty for his offense under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) is 120 months.

         On July 17, 2017, Scott filed a reply, requesting that the Court stay consideration of his § 2255 motion until the Eighth Circuit decides Pettis. (See Def.'s Traverse to Gov't's Resp. at 1-2, July 17, 2017, Docket No. 63.)

         DISCUSSION

         I. SECTION 2255

         Section 2255(a) 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.”

         II. THE ACCA

         Typically, a person found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm may be sentenced to no more than 10 years' imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2). But if the ACCA applies, the 10-year statutory maximum is replaced by a 15-year mandatory minimum. Id. § 924(e)(1); see also Descamps v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2276, ...


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