United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. HOLLANDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Memorandum Opinion resolves a motion filed by the
self-represented Petitioner, Ernest Lee Harmon, under 28
U.S.C. § 2255, seeking to vacate, set aside, or correct
his sentence. ECF 238 (“Petition”). In sum, Harmon
claims that he is entitled to relief pursuant to the decision
of the Supreme Court in Johnson v. United States,
U.S., 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). In particular, he claims that he
was improperly designated as a career offender and thus his
sentence was unlawfully enhanced.
to a motion for stay filed by the government (ECF 242), the
case was initially stayed, by Order of January 29, 2016. ECF
243. Thereafter, the government filed an opposition to the
Petition (ECF 244), which it subsequently amended. ECF 246.
Harmon filed a reply. ECF 247.
on the content of Harmon's reply, the Court issued an
Order (ECF 248) directing the government to address an issue
raised by Harmon in his reply. The government responded at
ECF 250. Thereafter, Harmon responded with two submissions.
ECF 252; ECF 254.
hearing is necessary to resolve the matter. For the reasons
that follow, I shall deny the Petition.
Factual and Procedural Background
Lee Harmon and five others were indicted on June 11, 2013
(ECF 1) and charged, inter alia, with conspiracy to
distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of
21 U.S.C. § 846. Harmon entered a plea of guilty to the
conspiracy offense on February 28, 2014 (ECF 154), pursuant
to a plea agreement. ECF 159 (“Plea Agreement”).
Notably, the offense to which Harmon pleaded guilty carries a
mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years, and a
maximum term of life imprisonment. See 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(b)(1)(A); see also ECF 159, ¶ 3. Mr.
Harmon's plea was entered under Fed. R. Crim. P.
11(c)(1)(C), by which the parties agreed to a sentence of
imprisonment ranging from 180 months to 240 months.
Id. ¶¶ 5, 7.
Plea Agreement, the parties agreed that defendant qualified
as a Career Offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1.
See ECF 159, ¶ 6B. In exchange for the
defendant's plea of guilty, the government agreed not to
file a notice of defendant's prior felony drug
convictions, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851. ECF 159,
¶ 9 at 7. As a result, the government agreed not to seek
an enhancement of the sentence.
to the Presentence Report (ECF 165, “PSR”),
defendant qualified as a Career Offender. See ECF
165, ¶ 57. This was based on two prior State felony drug
convictions for possession with intent to distribute
controlled dangerous substances (id. ¶¶
39, 51) and a second degree murder conviction. Id.
¶ 46. Based on a final offense level of 34 and a
criminal history category of VI, Harmon had an advisory
sentencing guidelines range of 262 to 327 months
imprisonment. Id. ¶ 66.
was held on April 14, 2014. ECF 174. The Court agreed with
the Career Offender designation. A sentence of 198
months' incarceration was imposed. ECF 176. That sentence
was well below the top end of the C plea range, and well
below the Career Offender advisory guidelines range.
appeal was taken to the Fourth Circuit.
2255(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code, under which
Harmon filed his Petition, provides relief to a prisoner in
federal custody only on specific grounds: that the sentence
was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the
United States; that the court was without jurisdiction to
impose such a sentence; that the sentence was in excess ...