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United States v. Goodwin

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

October 3, 2019


          Erica H. MacDonald, United States Attorney, and Andrew S. Dunne, Assistant United States Attorney, for plaintiff.

          Irah Lee Goodwin, pro se defendant.



         Defendant Irah Lee Goodwin is serving a 210-month term of imprisonment. On July 23, 2019, Goodwin filed a motion to appoint counsel and to modify his sentence. The Court construes Goodwin's request as a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion. Because Goodwin previously filed a § 2255 motion that the Court denied on the merits, the Court will deny the present § 2255 motion for lack of jurisdiction and will deny the motion to appoint counsel as moot.


         On November 7, 2013, Goodwin pleaded guilty to one count of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 1959(a)(3). (Plea Hr'g Min. Entry, Nov. 7, 2013, Docket No. 1333.) As part of the plea agreement, the parties stipulated that Goodwin is a career offender as defined in the United States Sentencing Guidelines (the “Guidelines”) §§ 4B1.1, 4B1.2, based on two prior convictions: (1) simple robbery and (2) Terroristic Threats pursuant to Minn. Stat § 609.713, subd. 1. (Plea Agreement on file with the Ct., Nov. 7, 2013, Docket No. 1334.) The parties jointly recommended a sentence of 210 months' imprisonment in accordance with the Career Offender Guideline's recommended range of 168 to 210 months. (Def.'s Position on Sentencing at 4, Dec. 9, 2013, Docket No. 1340; Govt.'s Position on Sentencing at 6, Dec. 11, 2013, Docket No. 1342.) On December 11, 2013, the Court sentenced Goodwin to 210 months' imprisonment. (Am. J. in Crim. Case at 1-2, Jan. 7, 2014, Docket No. 1353.)

         Goodwin has moved several times to vacate or reduce his sentence. In 2016, Goodwin argued that under Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 2557 (2015) he should not have been sentenced as a career offender. (Mot. to Vacate at 1, Jun. 24, 2016, Docket No. 1625.) The Court denied the motion, explaining that under Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886, 895 (2017), the Guidelines are not subject to vagueness challenges under the Due Process Clause. (Order Den. Mot. to Vacate at 3-4, Aug. 4, 2017, Docket No. 1763.) In 2018, Goodwin filed a second motion to vacate, based on Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S.Ct. 1204 (2018). (Mot. to Vacate, Jul. 13, 2018, Docket No. 1847.) Goodwin also moved to appoint counsel. (Mot. to Appoint Counsel, July 13, 2018, Docket No. 1846). The Court denied Goodwin's second motion based on lack of jurisdiction, and denied his request for counsel as moot. (Order Den. Mot. to Vacate and Mot. to Appoint Counsel at 4-5, Oct. 29, 2018, Docket No. 1869.)

         Presently before the Court is Goodwin's third motion to vacate and appoint counsel. (Mot. to Appoint Counsel, July 23, 2019, Docket No. 1923.) Goodwin argues that he is “entitled to a sentence modification” based on United States v. Davis. 139 S.Ct. 2319 (2019). In Davis, the Supreme Court applied Johnson and Dimaya to hold that the residual clause in 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)'s definition of “crime of violence” was unconstitutionally vague. 139 S.Ct. at 2326-27, 2336. Goodwin also moves again to appoint counsel. On August 30, 2019, Goodwin filed a second document reiterating his requests. (Addendum to Mot. to Appoint Counsel, Aug. 30, 2019, Docket No. 1928.) The Court considers these to be one motion.



         The Court construes Goodwin's pro se motion liberally. United States v. Wilson, 621 F.2d 927, 929 (8th Cir. 1980). Because Goodwin requests relief in light of a recent Supreme Court decision, the Court interprets Goodwin's motion to request relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h)(2). 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 . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Such relief “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) (citation omitted). When a prisoner files more than one motion under § 2255, a district court may not hear the successive petition unless it has been “certified as provided in section 2244 by a panel of the appropriate court of appeals . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(h).

         Because the Court denied Goodwin's first motion to vacate on the merits, his current motion to vacate is treated as a successive § 2255 motion. See U.S. v. Sellner, 773 F.3d 927, 932 (8th Cir. 2014) (“[a] key factor in determining whether a petition should be considered ‘second or successive' is whether a prior petition has been adjudicated on the merits”) (citation omitted). Since Goodwin has not received certification from the Eighth Circuit, the Court lacks jurisdiction to hear his successive motion.

         Even if the Court had jurisdiction to hear Goodwin's motion, it would be compelled to deny it. Goodwin pleaded guilty to and was sentenced for Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering under 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(3). Davis invalidated the residual clause under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Davis, 139 S.Ct. at 2326-27, 2336. Goodwin did not plead guilty to and was not sentenced under § 924(c); as a result, Davis is inapplicable to Goodwin's case and does not provide relief.

         II. CERTIFICATE ...

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