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Augustine v. United States

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 3, 2017

RODNEY AUGUSTINE, JR., Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Civil Action No. ELH-16-1518

          MEMORANDUM

          Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge.

         On July 19, 2012, Rodney Augustine, Jr., Petitioner, entered a plea of guilty as to Count One of an Indictment charging him with Conspiracy to Distribute and Possession with Intent to Distribute Oxycodone, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. ECF 62; ECF 65 (Plea Agreement). Judge William D. Quarles, Jr., to whom the case was initially assigned, held sentencing on May 8, 2014. ECF 106. At sentencing, the Court determined that Augustine qualified as a Career Offender, because his underlying offense was a controlled substance offense and he had at least two qualifying predicate offenses in Maryland: robbery and first-degree assault. See ECF 113 at 1. Judge Quarles sentenced defendant to a term of incarceration of 48 months. ECF 107 (Judgment).

         On May 18, 2016, the Federal Public Defender (“FPD”) filed a Motion to Correct Sentence Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, based on Johnson v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). ECF 113 (“Motion”). In Johnson, the Supreme Court struck down the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii), ruling that the definition of a “violent felony” was unconstitutionally vague. 135 S.Ct. at 2555-57; see also United States v. Winston, 850 F.3d 667, 680 (4th Cir. 2017) (explaining Johnson). Relying on Johnson, the FPD argued in the Motion that Petitioner no longer qualified as a Career Offender because his prior convictions do not constitute crimes of violence under the “enumerated offenses” clause or the “force” clause in U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a). ECF 113 at 2. The next day, May 19, 2016, the case was reassigned to me due to Judge Quarles's retirement. See Docket.

         On March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court decided Beckles v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017). In Beckles, the Court determined that the advisory sentencing guidelines are not subject to Johnson challenges.

         Subsequent to Beckles, on August 18, 2017, the FPD asked Petitioner whether he wanted to withdraw his motion. ECF 115 at 2, 3. Petitioner was also advised that the FPD intended to submit a request to withdraw as counsel and, if granted, Petitioner would be proceeding without counsel. Id. at 2. Petitioner did not respond to the FPD. Id.

         On September 18, 2017, the FPD filed a Motion to Withdraw as Counsel. ECF 115. This Court granted the motion two days later. ECF 116.

         Pending before this Court is Petitioner's Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. ECF 113. The government did not respond. No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016); 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). For the reasons stated herein, I shall deny the Motion.

         DISCUSSION

         Petitioner claims that under Johnson he does not qualify as a Career Offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, because the prior convictions that undergirded his Career Offender designation are not crimes of violence. ECF 43.

         U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(a) provides:

A defendant is a career offender if (1) the defendant was at least eighteen years old at the time the defendant committed the instant offense of conviction; (2) the instant offense of conviction is a felony that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense; and (3) the defendant has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense.
Section 4B1.2(a) states, in part:
(a) The term “crime of violence” means any offense under federal or state law, punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, that -
(1) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of ...

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