United States District Court, D. Maryland
MARVIN A. JACKSON Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Criminal Action No. RDB-09-0179
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge
pro se Petitioner Marvin A. Jackson
(“Petitioner” or “Jackson”) pled
guilty before this Court to one count of Possession of a
Firearm by a Convicted Felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 922(g)(1). J., p.1, ECF No. 22. At sentencing, this
Court found that Jackson was an “armed career
criminal” under the Armed Career Criminal Act
(“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), on the basis
of three prior “serious drug offenses.” This
Court sentenced Jackson to 15 years (180 months)
imprisonment, the mandatory minimum sentence under the ACCA.
Statement of Reasons (sealed), p. 1, ECF No. 23. Currently
pending before this Court is Petitioner's Motion to
Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence (ECF No. 24) pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, in light of the United States
Supreme Court's intervening decision in Johnson v.
United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 2558 (2015). Having
reviewed the parties' submissions, this Court finds that
no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.
Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, the Johnson
decision has no bearing on Petitioner's sentence.
Accordingly, Petitioner's Motion to Vacate (ECF No. 24)
filed pro se are “liberally construed”
and are “held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citation omitted). Under
28 U.S.C. § 2255, a prisoner in custody may seek to
vacate, set aside or correct his sentence where: (1)
“the sentence was imposed in violation of the
Constitution or laws of the United States, ” (2) the
court lacked “jurisdiction to impose the sentence, . .
. [(3)] the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized
by law, or [(4) the sentence] is otherwise subject to a
collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). “If
the court finds . . . that the sentence imposed was not
authorized by law or otherwise open to collateral attack, or
that there has been such a denial or infringement of the
constitutional rights of the prisoner as to render the
judgment vulnerable to collateral attack, the court shall
vacate and set the judgment aside and shall discharge the
prisoner or resentence him or grant a new trial or correct
the sentence as may appear appropriate.” 28 U.S.C.
“armed career criminal” under the Armed Career
Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) is
an individual who violates 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) and who
has three prior convictions for either a “violent
felony” or a “serious drug offense, ” or
both. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1), a person who
qualifies as an armed career criminal under the ACCA is
subject to a mandatory period of imprisonment of not less
than fifteen years. In Johnson v. United States, 135
S.Ct. 2551 (2015), the United States Supreme Court held that
the “Residual Clause” of the Armed Career
Criminal Act's definition of “violent felony”
was unconstitutionally vague because its application was too
“wide-ranging” and “indeterminate.”
Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2557. After Johnson,
an offense can only qualify as a “violent felony”
under the ACCA if it falls within the ambit of the
“Force Clause” or is one of the ACCA's
enumerated offenses. The Johnson decision had no
impact on “serious drug offenses” under the ACCA.
contends that he “is no longer a [sic] Armed Career
Criminal” because he was convicted of a
“non-violent offense” in light of the Supreme
Court's decision in Johnson v. United States.
Motion to Vacate, ECF No. 24 at 1-2. However, contrary to
Jackson's assertion, his armed career criminal status was
not predicated on one or more “violent felonies”
under the ACCA, but was instead supported by at least three
prior “serious drug offenses.” Prior to his 2009
arrest, Jackson was convicted of several “serious drug
offenses” under the ACCA, including: (1) a 1991
conviction for possession with intent to
manufacture/distribute a controlled dangerous substance; (2)
a 1993 conviction for possession with intent to distribute
cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine; (3) a 1996
conviction for controlled dangerous substance conspiracy; (4)
convictions for possession with intent to distribute heroin
and drug trafficking in the year 2000, for which he was
sentenced to five years incarceration; and (5) a 2006
conviction for possession with intent to distribute
marijuana. Presentence Report, ¶¶ 29, 31, 32, 33,
36. Because Jackson's enhanced sentence under the ACCA
was independently supported by at least three prior
“serious drug offenses, ” Johnson is
inapplicable. Accordingly, Petitioner has stated no grounds
for post-conviction relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
foregoing reasons, Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, Set
Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255
(ECF No. 24) is DENIED.
to Rule 11(a) of the Rules Governing Proceedings under 28
U.S.C. § 2255, the court is required to issue or deny a
certificate of appealability when it enters a final order
adverse to the applicant. A certificate of appealability is a
“jurisdictional prerequisite” to an appeal from
the court's earlier order. United States v.
Hadden, 475 F.3d 652, 659 (4th Cir. 2007). A certificate
of appealability may issue “only if the applicant has
made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional
right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). Where the court
denies petitioner's motion on its merits, a petitioner
satisfies this standard by demonstrating that reasonable
jurists would find the court's assessment of the
constitutional claims debatable or wrong. See Slack v.