United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett, United States District Judge
pro se Petitioner Antwan Travers
("Petitioner" or "Travers") pled guilty
before this Court to Counts 7 and 8 of a Superseding
Indictment (ECF No. 33) charging him with Conspiracy to
Commit Hobbs Act Robber}', in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1951 (a) (Count 7), and Attempted Hobbs Act Robbery,
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) (Count 8), in
connection with a series of robberies committed in February
and March of 2014. See J. p.1, ECF No. 83. Although
the Superseding Indictment had charged Travers with an
additional nine counts, including Using, Carrying, and
Brandishing a Firearm During and in Relation to Crimes of
Violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Counts 5,
10 & 12), those Counts were dismissed by the Government.
Pursuant to a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) Plea Agreement (ECF No. 60),
Travers and the Government stipulated that a sentence between
180 and 240 months would be appropriate. This Court
ultimately sentenced Travers to 180 months as to the
conspiracy charge (Count 7) and 180 months as to the attempt
charge (Count 8) to run concurrently for a total sentence of
180 months imprisonment with credit for time served in
federal custody since December 11, 2014. Id. at 2.
Although Travers appealed this Court's Judgment to the
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, he
later dismissed his appeal. See Order, ECF No. 96.
Petitioner filed the pending Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or
Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (ECF No.
105), in which he argues that he "could not be guilty of
violating 924(c)" in light of the United States Supreme
Court's intervening decision in Johnson v. United
States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). Having reviewed the
parties' submissions, this Court finds that no hearing is
necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016).
Petitioner's Motion is completely without merit because
the Section 924(c) charges were in fact dismissed, and
Johnson has no impact on Petitioner's conviction
or 180-month sentence for Conspiracy to Commit Hobbs Act
Robbery and Attempted Hobbs Act Robbery. Accordingly,
Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct
Sentence (ECF No. 105) is DENIED.
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.
Petitioner is Not Entitled to Relief Under the Johnson
filed pro se are to be "liberally
construed" and are "held to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers."
Enckson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Even
construing the Petitioner's filings liberally, he has
stated no grounds for relief under 18 U.S.C. § 2255
because the Johnson decision has no bearing on his
conviction and sentence. An "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 term 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 Petitioner was not
sentenced as an "armed career criminal."
Accordingly, the Johnson decision is inapplicable.
the question of whether Johnson applies to the
definition of "crime of violence" under 18 U.S.C.
§ 16, which is similarly worded to the definition of
"crime of violence" under Section 924(c), is
currently pending before the United States Supreme Court in
Sessions v. Dimaya, 803 F.3d 1110 (9th Or. 2015),
cert, granted, 85 U.S.L.W. 3114 (U.S. Sept. 29,
2016) (No. 15-1498), the issue before the Supreme Court in
Dimaya has no effect on Petitioner's conviction
because he was not convicted under Section 924(c). Petitioner
pled guilty only to Conspiracy to Commit Hobbs Act Robbery,
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) (Count 7), and
Attempted Hobbs Act Robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
1951(a) (Count 8). See), p.l, ECF No. 83. Section
1951 does not require a predicate "crime of
violence" nor does it include a residual clause.
Accordingly, Johnson is not applicable to the
Petitioner contends that he "would not have entered the
guilty plea and would have gone to trial3' had he known
of the Johnson decision, see Mot., p.5, ECF
No. 105, this hypothetical argument does not entitle him to
relief under Section 2255. To the extent Petitioner seeks to
withdraw his guilty plea, his Motion is equally without
merit. Petitioner testified before this Court following a
Rule 11 colloquy that he was in fact guilty of Attempted
Hobbs Act Robbery and Conspiracy to Commit Hobbs Act Robbery.
The Fourth Circuit has long recognized that a defendant's
sworn statements attesting to their comprehension of a guilty
plea "are treated as conclusive with regard to the
validity of the plea and may not be controverted later."
Savino v. Murray, 82 F.3d 593, 603 (4th Cir. 1996)
(referencing Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 243-44
(1968)). "Thus, in the absence of extraordinary
circumstances, allegations in a § 2255 motion that
directly contradict the petitioner's sworn statements
made during a properly conducted Rule 11 colloquy are always
'palpably incredible' and 'patently frivolous or
false.'" United States v. Lemaster, 403
F.3d 216, 221 (4th Cir. 2005). Petitioner has made no showing
of "extraordinary circumstances." For all of these
reasons, Petitioner has demonstrated no entitlement to
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. 105) 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 Stales v. Haclden,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.
McDaniel,529 U.S. 473, ...