Lofton v. USA
Order - Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence 1 is DENIED, the Court will not hold an evidentiary hearing, and the Court declines to issue a certificate of appealability. Signed on 8/30/17 by Chief District Judge Greg Kays. (Strodtman, Tracy)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
CHRIS H. LOFTON,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
(Crim. No. 4:12-CR-00110-DGK-01)
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO CORRECT SENTENCE
Petitioner Chris H. Lofton (“Petitioner”) pled guilty to one count of being a felon in
possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2), and the Court
sentenced him to 108 months’ imprisonment.
Now before the Court are Petitioner’s Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence
(Doc. 1) under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, and the Government’s Motion to Lift Stay and Deny Pending
28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion on the Merits (Doc. 26). Because the Supreme Court recently rejected
Petitioner’s argument in Beckles v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 886 (2017), his § 2255 motion is
DENIED. The Government’s motion to deny Petitioner’s motion is GRANTED.
On October 17, 2012, Petitioner pled guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of
a firearm, absent a written plea agreement. On April 2, 2013, the Court sentenced Petitioner to
108 months’ imprisonment after carefully considering the relevant factors and reviewing the
The facts in this section derive from: (1) the criminal case record; and (2) the allegations in Petitioner’s motion,
taken as true except where they contradict the record. Because the facts in this light do not entitle Petitioner to
relief, the Court denies him an evidentiary hearing and rules on the facts in the record. See Thomas v. United States,
737 F.3d 1202, 1206 (8th Cir. 2013) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b)); Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings, Rule
United States Sentencing Guidelines (the “Guidelines”). In calculating Petitioner’s Guidelines
range, the Probation and Parole Office found he was eligible for an enhanced base offense level
because he had one prior conviction that qualified as a “crime of violence,” his prior Missouri
conviction for resisting arrest. See PSR ¶¶ 17, 47 (Crim. Doc. 19). This enhancement elevated
Petitioner’s base offense level to 20, ultimately yielding an advisory imprisonment range of 92 to
115 months. The Court sentenced Petitioner to 108 months, 12 months below the statutory
maximum of 10 years. Petitioner did not file a direct appeal.
Petitioner filed the instant motion on January 27, 2016. The Court withheld ruling while
awaiting the Supreme Court’s opinion in Beckles. That decision was handed down on March 6,
A district court may vacate a sentence if it “was imposed in violation of the Constitution
or laws of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). A § 2255 motion “is not a substitute for a
direct appeal, and is not the proper way to complain about simple . . . errors.” Anderson v.
United States, 25 F.3d 704, 706 (8th Cir. 1994) (internal citation omitted).
Petitioner argues his prior conviction for resisting arrest no longer qualifies as a crime of
violence in the wake of Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), the Supreme Court
decision invalidating the Armed Career Criminal Act’s (“ACCA”) residual clause, 18 U.S.C. §
924(e)(2)(B)(ii). Petitioner contends that under Johnson, the Court’s Guidelines calculation
violated due process.
This argument is without merit. Petitioner was not sentenced under the ACCA, but
instead under a similarly-worded provision in the Guidelines. See U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2. The
Guidelines are not subject to a void-for-vagueness challenge under the Due Process Clause like
the ACCA’s residual clause was in Johnson. Beckles, 137 S. Ct. at 896. Unlike the ACCA, the
Guidelines do not fix the permissible statutory range of punishment. Id. at 894. Instead, they
merely guide the exercise of a sentencing court’s discretion in choosing an appropriate sentence
within the permissible range. Id. Here, Petitioner was sentenced to a term of imprisonment that
was not in excess of the statutory maximum and, therefore, not an illegal sentence.
Because Petitioner’s claim is based on the same vagueness challenge the Supreme Court
rejected in Beckles, it is denied.2
For these reasons, Petitioner’s Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence (Doc. 1)
is DENIED, the Court will not hold an evidentiary hearing, and the Court declines to issue a
certificate of appealability. The Government’s Motion to Lift Stay and Deny Pending 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 Motion on the Merits (Doc. 26) is GRANTED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Date: August 30, 2017
/s/ Greg Kays
GREG KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Petitioner’s conclusory ineffective assistance of counsel claim is rejected as time-barred. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f).
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