US v. Robert Scott
UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 2:12-cr-00881-MBS-1. Copies to all parties and the district court/agency . [17-4198]
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Plaintiff - Appellee,
ROBERT VERNON SCOTT,
Defendant - Appellant.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, at
Charleston. Margaret B. Seymour, Senior District Judge. (2:12-cr-00881-MBS-1)
Submitted: September 12, 2017
Decided: October 12, 2017
Before GREGORY, Chief Judge, THACKER, Circuit Judge, and HAMILTON, Senior
Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion.
Cameron Jane Blazer, BLAZER LAW FIRM, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, for
Appellant. Beth Drake, United States Attorney, Nick Bianchi, Assistant United States
Attorney, Charleston, South Carolina, for Appellee.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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Robert Vernon Scott pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to possession of a
firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1),
924(a)(2), (e)(1) (2012). Based on his prior South Carolina state convictions for armed
robbery and distribution of crack cocaine, the district court sentenced Scott as an armed
career criminal to 180 months’ imprisonment. On appeal, Scott challenges his armed
career criminal designation, asserting that his prior armed robbery convictions do not
serve as predicates under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA or “the act”), 18 U.S.C.
§ 924(e). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
Scott argues that his prior convictions for armed robbery are not proper ACCA
predicates because the convictions do not qualify as predicates under the act’s
enumerated offenses clause or force clause and that, after Johnson v. United States,
135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015) (holding residual clause of ACCA void for vagueness), the
convictions no longer qualify under the act’s residual clause. With respect to the force
clause, Scott takes the position that the offense of armed robbery does not contain an
element requiring the type of violent physical force needed to satisfy that clause.
The ACCA mandates imposition of a minimum term of 15 years’ imprisonment
for a defendant who violates 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) and “has three previous convictions” for
a “violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). “We review
de novo whether a prior conviction qualifies as an ACCA violent felony.”
States v. Doctor, 842 F.3d 306, 308 (4th Cir. 2016), cert. denied, 137 S. Ct. 1831 (2017).
A violent felony includes “any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding
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one year that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force
against the person of another.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). Physical force for
ACCA purposes “means violent force–that is, force capable of causing physical pain or
injury to another person.” Johnson v. United States, 559 U.S. 133, 140 (2010).
In Doctor, this court held that a South Carolina conviction for strong arm robbery
qualifies as a predicate violent felony under the force clause of the ACCA. 842 F.3d at
312. This court concluded that “South Carolina has defined its common law robbery
offense, whether committed by means of violence or intimidation, to necessarily include
as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the
person of another.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). South Carolina “[a]rmed
robbery includes all the elements of strong arm robbery.” State v. Muldrow, 559 S.E.2d
847, 850 (S.C. 2002) (citing State v. Keith, 325 S.E.2d 325 (S.C. 1985) (armed robbery is
commission of common law robbery while armed with a deadly weapon)). Doctor thus
forecloses Scott’s argument that his prior armed robbery convictions are not violent
felonies under the ACCA’s force clause. * Further, after review of the record and the
parties’ briefs, we reject as wholly without merit Scott’s efforts to distinguish Doctor or
reject its application in this case.
Because Scott has three qualifying prior convictions that warrant his armed career
criminal designation, we affirm the criminal judgment. We dispense with oral argument
The parties do not dispute that if the lesser offense of strong arm robbery is a
proper ACCA predicate, then armed robbery likewise qualifies.
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because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before
this court and argument would not aid the decisional process.
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