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United States v. Hill

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 16, 2020

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Leonard Dwayne Hill, Defendant.

          Benjamin Bejar, Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney's Office, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Plaintiff.

          Leonard Dwayne Hill, pro se.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ANN D. MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge for a ruling on Defendant Leonard Dwayne Hill's (“Hill”) Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (“§ 2255 Motion”) [Docket No. 206].[1] For the reasons set forth below, Hill's § 2255 Motion is denied.

         II. BACKGROUND[2]

         On 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]. Hill was sentenced to a prison term of 192 months. Sentencing J. [Docket No. 103] at 2.

         Hill appealed his conviction, arguing: 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. Hill, 835 F.3d at 797-98. On August 29, 2016, the Eighth Circuit affirmed Hill's conviction. Id. at 800. The Supreme Court denied Hill's writ of certiorari on January 17, 2017. See Hill v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 820 (2017).

         In June 2017, Hill moved under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate or correct his sentence. See Mot. Vacate [Docket No. 131]. First, Hill challenged the validity of his conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), arguing the Government failed to prove the ammunition had crossed state lines. Id. at 6. This argument was rejected because the issue had already been raised and decided by the Eighth Circuit on direct appeal. See Hill, 2017 WL 4773110, at *3. Second, Hill argued he no longer had three qualifying predicate convictions to support his designation as an armed career criminal after the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). Id. This Court agreed with his predicate conviction sentencing argument and ruled that Hill should be resentenced. Id. The § 2255 motion was thus denied in part and granted in part. Hill appealed the partial denial of the interstate commerce portion of his § 2255 motion, and the Eighth Circuit declined to issue a Certificate of Appealability. See Notice Appeal [Docket No. 152]; USCA J. [Docket No. 187]. The Supreme Court denied Hill's writ of certiorari. See Letter Denying Writ Cert. [Docket No. 198].

         In January 2018, the Court resentenced Hill to 108 months in prison. Resentencing J. [Docket No. 167] at 2. Hill appealed the reasonableness of his new sentence, and the Eighth Circuit affirmed the new sentence in April 2019. See Notice Appeal [Docket No. 170]; United States v. Hill, 769 Fed.Appx. 393 (8th Cir. 2019).

         In June 2019, Hill sought permission from the Eighth Circuit to file a successive § 2255 motion. The Eighth Circuit ruled that authorization is not necessary because a new resentencing judgment was entered. See USCA J. [Docket No. 204]; Mandate [Docket No. 205]. Hill then filed this § 2255 Motion challenging the validity of his conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Persons in federal custody are provided a limited opportunity to collaterally attack the constitutionality, jurisdictional basis, or legality of their sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979). “Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 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) (quoting United States v. Apfel, 97 F.3d 1074, 1076 (8th Cir. 1996)).

         Section 2255 generally may not “be used to relitigate matters decided on direct appeal.” Sun Bear v. United States, 644 F.3d 700, 702 (8th Cir. 2011) (citing Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 346-47 (1974)). “Claims which were raised and decided on direct appeal cannot be relitigated on a motion to vacate pursuant to 28 ...


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