Epps v. USA-2255
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Peter J. Messitte on 9/27/2017. (c/m 9/27/2017 tds, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Rudolph Epps, through counsel, has filed a Motion to Correct Sentence Under 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255. ECF No. 18. For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES his Motion.
On November 16, 2009, Epps pled guilty to four counts of bank robbery, in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 2113. On April 20, 2010, the Court sentenced him to a total term of 188 months
imprisonment after finding that he was a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. The Court
made this determination after adopting the finding of Epps’s presentence report indicating that
the offense of bank robbery was a “crime of violence” and that he had at least two qualifying
prior convictions that supported the career offender enhancement. Specifically, the Court found
that Epps had prior convictions for robbery under Maryland law and prior convictions for bank
robbery under federal law that qualified as “crimes of violence.”
On February 29, 2016, the Office of the Federal Public Defender notified Chief Judge
Blake of the District Court of Maryland that Epps was one of 459 defendants it had identified as
possibly being eligible for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on the grounds that the new rule of
constitutional law announced in Johnson v. United States, __ U.S. __, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015),
held to apply retroactively to cases on collateral review by Welch v. United States, 136 S. Ct.
1257 (2016), might apply to his case. ECF No. 17. Chief Judge Blake agreed and appointed the
Federal Public Defender to assist Epps in preparing a § 2255 proceeding. On June 1, 2016, the
present motion was filed. The Government did not file a response.
Epps argues that, in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Johnson, he is no
longer a career offender, since his instant offense of bank robbery no longer qualifies as a crime
of violence and his prior convictions for robbery and bank robbery no longer qualify as career
offender predicates. In Johnson, the Supreme Court struck down the Armed Career Criminal
Act’s (“ACCA”) residual clause (18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii)) as unconstitutionally vague. 135
S. Ct. at 2557. Epps argues that it follows from Johnson that the identical residual clause in the
career offender provision of the Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a)(2)) is also void for
vagueness. However, on March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court held in Beckles v. United States, __
U.S.__, 137 S. Ct. 886 (2017) that Johnson does not apply to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a)(2) because,
unlike the ACCA, the Guidelines are advisory only. Thus, challenges under § 2255 to sentences
imposed under the sentencing guidelines are not subject to Johnson challenges.
Since Epps’s motion rests entirely on the argument that Johnson applies to his claim, the
Court DENIES his Motion to Correct Sentence Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
A separate Order will ISSUE.
PETER J. MESSITTE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
September 27, 2017
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