Taylor v. USA
OPINION entered by Judge Sue E. Myerscough on 1/4/2018. Petitioner Eddie Taylor's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody, d/e 1 is DENIED. The Court denies a certificate of appealability. This case is CLOSED. (SEE WRITTEN OPINION) (MAS, ilcd)
Monday, 08 January, 2018 09:54:58 AM
Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
EDDIE E. TAYLOR,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
SUE E. MYERSCOUGH, U.S. District Judge.
This cause is before the Court on Petitioner Eddie E. Taylor’s
Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct
Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (d/e 1). Because
Petitioner is not entitled to relief, the § 2255 Motion is DENIED.
In April 2008, Petitioner pled guilty to possessing five or more
grams of cocaine base (“crack”) with intent to distribute in violation
of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B) pursuant to a plea agreement.
See United States v. Taylor, United States District Court, Central
District of Illinois, Urbana Division, Case No. 07-20108 (hereinafter,
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Crim.). As part of the plea agreement, Petitioner waived his right to
appeal and collaterally attack his conviction and sentence. Crim.,
Plea Agreement (d/e 11).
The Probation Office prepared a Presentence Investigation
Report (PSR). Crim., PSR (d/e 16). The PSR reflected that
Petitioner qualified as a career offender under United States
Sentencing Guidelines § 4B1.1 based on a prior conviction for a
controlled substance offense (Macon County Circuit Court, Case No.
05-CF-705) and a prior conviction for a crime of violence
(aggravated battery, Macon County Circuit Court, Case No. 06-CF1161). Id. ¶ 27; see also U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 (2006) (providing that a
defendant is a career offender if he is at least 18 years old when he
committed the instant offense, the instant offense is a felony that is
either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense, and the
defendant has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime
of violence or a controlled substance offense). It is unclear whether
the Court found that the aggravated battery conviction qualified
under the elements clause of the career offender guideline or the
residual clause. Compare U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a)(1) (2006) (defining a
crime of violence to include an offense that “has as an element the
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use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the
person of another”) with §4B1.2(a)(2) (defining a crime of violence to
include an offense that “otherwise involves conduct that presents a
serious potential risk of physical injury to another”).
In light of the career offender designation, Petitioner’s advisory
sentencing guideline range was 262 to 327 months. Crim., PSR
¶ 66. The statutory minimum sentence was 10 years and the
maximum term was life. Id. ¶ 65 (citing 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)).
In February 2009, former United States District Judge Michael P.
McCuskey sentenced Petitioner to 262 months’ imprisonment.
Crim., Judgment (d/e 18). In February 2013, Judge McCuskey
reduced Petitioner’s sentence to 168 months’ imprisonment. Crim.,
Amended Judgment (d/e 26). Petitioner did not appeal his
conviction or sentence.
In August 2015, Petitioner filed a Motion to Reduce Sentence
pursuant to an amendment to the sentencing guidelines. Crim.,
Motion to Reduce Sentence (d/e 28). The Court denied the Motion
when Petitioner failed to respond to the Court’s order “to either
concede that the Amendment does not apply because he was
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sentenced as a career offender, or explain why it applied in spite of
a sentence as a career offender.” Crim., Nov. 24, 2015 Text Order.
In June 2016, Petitioner filed a Motion Under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in
Federal Custody based on Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct.
2551 (2015) (holding that the residual clause of the Armed Career
Criminal Act is unconstitutionally vague). See d/e 1 (filed June 16,
2016). Petitioner argued that his Illinois aggravated battery
conviction no longer qualified as a crime of violence for purposes of
the career offender guideline. This Court appointed the Federal
Public Defender’s Office to represent Petitioner and stayed
Petitioner’s case pending the Seventh Circuit’s resolution of the
effect of Johnson on the identically worded residual clause in the
career offender guideline. See June 21, 2016 Text Order.
In August 2016, the Seventh Circuit held that Johnson
applied to the guidelines. United States v. Hurlburt, 835 F.3d 715,
725 (7th Cir. 2016) (applying Johnson and holding that the residual
clause in § 4B1.2(a)(2) was unconstitutionally vague). But, on
March 6, 2017, the United States Supreme Court decided Beckles v.
United States, holding that the “advisory Guidelines are not subject
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to vagueness challenges under the Due Process Clause” and that
the residual clause in § 4B1.2(a)(2) is not void for vagueness. 137
S. Ct. 886, 890 (2017) (also abrogating Hurlburt).
On December 1, 2017, the Court lifted the stay and informed
the parties that the Court intends to rule on the § 2255 Motion
“unless the parties advise the Court, in writing, on or before
December 11, 2017 that they wish to submit briefing in the case.”
See Dec. 1, 2017 Text Order. The parties did not request briefing in
the case, and the Court will now rule on the § 2255 Motion.
A person convicted of a federal crime may move to vacate, set
aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Relief
under § 2255 is an extraordinary remedy because a § 2255
petitioner has already had “an opportunity for full process.”
Almonacid v. United States, 476 F.3d 518, 521 (7th Cir. 2007).
Here, Petitioner’s Johnson claim is foreclosed by the decision
in Beckles. Petitioner challenges his designation as a career
offender based on his prior conviction of aggravated battery to the
extent that it qualified as a crime of violence under the Guidelines’
residual clause. In light of Beckles, the “advisory Guidelines are
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not subject to vagueness challenges under the Due Process Clause”
and the residual clause in § 4B1.2(a)(2) is not void for vagueness.
137 S. Ct. 886, 890 (2017). Accordingly, Petitioner’s Johnson claim
must be denied.
III. CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY
If Petitioner seeks to appeal this decision, he must first obtain
a certificate of appealability. See 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c) (providing that
an appeal may not be taken to the court of appeals from the final
order in a § 2255 proceeding unless a circuit justice or judge issues
a certificate of appealability). A certificate of appealability may
issue only if Petitioner has made “a substantial showing of the
denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). Here,
Petitioner has not made a substantial showing of the denial of a
constitutional right. Therefore, the Court denies a certificate of
For the reasons stated, Petitioner Eddie Taylor’s Motion Under
28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a
Person in Federal Custody (d/e 1) is DENIED. The Court denies a
certificate of appealability. This case is CLOSED.
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ENTER: January 4, 2018
FOR THE COURT:
s/ Sue E. Myerscough
SUE E. MYERSCOUGH
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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