United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Benjamin Bejar, Assistant United States Attorney, United
States Attorney's Office, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of
Leonard Dwayne Hill, pro se.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge
for a ruling on Defendant Leonard Dwayne Hill's
(“Hill”) 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion [Criminal
Docket No. 131] (“§ 2255 Motion”), and
Application to Proceed In Forma Pauperis [Docket No. 132]
(“IFP Application”). For the reasons set forth
below, Hill's § 2255 Motion is granted in part and
denied in part, and his IFP Application is denied as moot.
August 6, 2015, a jury returned a verdict finding Hill guilty
of being a felon in possession of ammunition in violation of
18 U.S.C. §§ 921(17)(A), 922(g)(1) and 924(e)(1).
Jury Verdict [Docket No. 88]. The Presentence Investigation
Report (“PSR”) determined that Hill's
conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) qualified him as an
armed career criminal under the Armed Career Criminal Act
(“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2), and he was
therefore subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 180
months imprisonment. PSR ¶¶ 22, 87. The ACCA
designation was premised upon three prior convictions for
Second Degree Burglary, two prior convictions for Domestic
Assault, and one prior conviction for Theft from Person. PSR
¶ 22.The PSR concluded that Hill's
sentencing guideline range was 262 months to 327 months
imprisonment. Id. ¶ 88.
September 10, 2015, the Court held a sentencing hearing and
adopted the PSR sentencing determinations without change.
Min. Entry [Docket No. 102]; Statement Reasons [Docket No.
104] at 1. As a result, Hill was adjudicated to be an armed
career criminal under the ACCA. The Court imposed a 192-month
sentence, a downward variance from the Guidelines range of
262 months to 327 months imprisonment. Sentencing J. [Docket
No. 103] at 2; Statement Reasons at 1, 3.
appealed his conviction, arguing that 1) the Government
constructively amended the Indictment; 2) the Government
failed to establish that the ammunition was in or affecting
interstate commerce; and 3) the de minimis connection to
interstate commerce was insufficient to satisfy the Commerce
Clause. United States v. Hill, 835 F.3d 796, 797-98
(8th Cir. 2016). On August 29, 2016, the Eighth Circuit
affirmed Hill's conviction. Id. at 800. The
Mandate [Docket No. 127] was issued on October 6, 2016, and
Hill's writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court was denied
on January 17, 2017. See Hill v. United States, 137
S.Ct. 820 (2017).
26, 2017, Hill filed the § 2255 Motion and the IFP
Application. In the § 2255 Motion, Hill argues that 1)
the Court lacked territorial jurisdiction over the offense of
conviction, and that the ammunition was not manufactured
outside of Minnesota; 2) his prior felony convictions no
longer qualify as violent felony convictions under the ACCA;
3) he received ineffective assistance of counsel when his
attorney failed to file a motion to dismiss the Indictment;
and 4) the de minimis nexus of his offense to interstate
commerce is unconstitutional.
August 18, 2017, the Government filed a Response [Docket No.
137], arguing that Hill's first claim fails because the
offense conduct occurred in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the
ammunition's propellant powder was manufactured outside
of Minnesota. The Government further argues that Hill's
ineffective assistance of counsel claim fails because the
validity of the Indictment was upheld at trial and on appeal.
Therefore, trial counsel's failure to file a motion to
dismiss the Indictment was not ineffective because any such
motion would have been futile. Finally, the Government argues
that Hill's interstate commerce arguments are not
cognizable under § 2255 because they were fully
litigated at trial and on appeal.
regard to Hill's sentencing argument, the Government
concedes that Hill must be resentenced. Eighth Circuit
decisions subsequent to Hill's sentencing and appeal
establish that Hill no longer has three qualifying prior
felony convictions that qualify him as an armed career