ARRINGTON v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
MEMORANDUM OPINION filed. Signed by Judge Peter G. Sheridan on 7/26/2017. (mps)
NOT FOR PUBLICATION
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
KHARY SHERRIF ARRINGTON,
Civil Action No. 17-263 8 (PGS)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
SHERIDAN, District Judge:
Petitioner Khary Sherrif Arrington, confined at FCI-Fairton in Fairton, New Jersey, has
filed a motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 (“Motion”),
challenging a sentence imposed by this Court in United States v. Arrington, No. 14-cr-0 104, ECF
No. 23 (D.N.J. entered July 22, 2014). His sentence was enhanced by application of the career
offender provision in the United States Sentencing Guidelines, based on a prior state drug
conviction. Petitioner contends that under Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016), his
state drug offense no longer qualifies as a predicate conviction and, as such, he should be
resentenced. At this time, the Court must screen for summary dismissal pursuant to Rule 4 of the
Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings for the United States District Courts. For the reasons
stated below, the Court dismisses the Motion as time-barred.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
A prisoner in federal custody under sentence of a federal court “may move the court which
imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence” upon three grounds: (1) “that the
sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States”; (2) “that the
court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence”; or (3) “that the sentence was in excess of
the maximum authorized by law.” 28 U.S.C.
A criminal defendant bears the burden of establishing his entitlement to
§ 2255 relief See
United States v. Davies, 394 F.3d 182, 189 (3d Cir. 2005). Moreover, because a
§ 2255 motion to
vacate is a collateral attack on a sentence, a criminal defendant “must clear a significantly higher
hurdle than would exist on direct appeal.” United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 166 (1982), cited
in United States v. Travillion, 759 F.3d 281, 288 (3d Cir. 2014). For its part, “the court must accept
the truth of the movant’s factual allegations unless they are clearly frivolous on the basis of the
existing record.” United States v. Booth, 432 F.3d 542, 545 (3d Cir. 2005) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted).
Additionally, “[i]t is the policy of the courts to give a liberal
construction to prose habeas petitions.” Rainey
Varner, 603 F.3d 189, 198 (3d Cir. 2010). “If
it plainly appears from the motion, any attached exhibits, and the record of prior proceedings that
the moving party is not entitled to relief, the judge must dismiss the motion and direct the clerk to
notify the moving party.” Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings for the United
States District Courts.
Title 28, Section 2255 of the United States Code requires that “[a] I—year period of
limitation shall apply to a motion under this section.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(f). In most cases and in
this particular case, the one-year period begins on “the date on which the judgment of conviction
becomes final[.]” 28 U.S.C.
[A] judgment of conviction becomes final within the meaning of 2255 on the later
of(1) the date on which the Supreme Court affirms the conviction and sentence on
the merits or denies the defendant’s timely filed petition for certiorari, or (2) the
date on which the defendant’s time for filing a timely petition for certiorari review
expires. If a defendant does not pursue a timely direct appeal to the court of appeals,
his or her conviction and sentence become final, and the statute of limitation begins
to run, on the date on which the time for filing such an appeal expired.
Kapral v. United States, 166 F.3d 565, 577 (3d Cir. 1999); see Gonzalez v. Thaler, 132 S. Ct. 641,
653 (2012); Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 532 (2003).
Here, because Petitioner’s judgment was issued by this Court on July 22, 2014, and he did
not appeal that judgment, the instant Motion, dated April 13, 2017, more than two years later, is
unquestionably untimely under
§ 2255. Petitioner acknowledges this problem, and concedes that
his motion would ordinarily be time-barred. ECF No. I at 13. Nevertheless, he argues that because
his claim is based on Mathis, decided on June 23, 2016, his motion is timely under 28 U.S.C.
2255(0(3), which allows a motion to be filed within one year of “the date on which the right
asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by
the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review[.]”
However, the Court finds Petitioner does not state a claim that was initially recognized in
Mathis. The basis of his claim is that the Court misapplied the “modified categorical approach”
in deciding whether his prior state drug crime rendered him a career offender under the Guidelines.
ECF No. 1 at 5. But as Mathis itself pointed out, the modified categorical approach was not new
law—indeed, Mathis cited to Shepard v. United States, 544 U.S. 13, 26 (2005), a case decided on
March 7, 2005, as an example of a case where the Supreme Court applied the modified categorical
approach. 136 5. Ct. at 2249. According to Petitioner, his claim raises the issue of “whether a
state prior/s can be applied to a divisible statute such as N.J.S.A. 2C-35 that contains more th[a]n
one alternative without reviewing something more.” ECF No. 1 at 5) As Mathis explained, this
‘N.J.S.A. 2C-35,” of course, is not even an actual statute. Section 2C:35 of the N.J.S.A. is the
Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987. See N.J.S.A. § 2C:35-1. Petitioner does not explain
why an entire section of legislation, which contains many statutes defining different crimes, should
be construed as a “divisible statute.”
is a classic problem requiring the modified categorical approach, which existed long before Mathis
was decided. 136 S. Ct. at 2249.
Instead, Mathis itself dealt with a very narrow issue of whether the enumerated offenses of
“burglary, arson, or extortion,” which can enhance a defendant’s sentence under the Armed Career
Criminal Act, encompass a state crime that, on its face, contains an element that includes more
offensive conduct than the common-law definitions of those enumerated offenses. Id. Of course,
that has nothing to do with Petitioner’s claim here—his prior state crime was neither burglary,
arson, or extortion, nor did it involve the common-law definition of any crime. Indeed, drug
offenses are contemporary crimes that are almost exclusively defined by statutes. If Petitioner
believes that this Court erred when applying the categorical approach or the modified categorical
approach to determine whether his prior state offense fell under the career offender provision of
the Guidelines, he should have raised that issue at sentencing, or at the very latest, filed a
motion within one year after his judgment became final. Contrary to Petitioner’s assertion, Mathis
did not announce any new law relevant to his claim. As such, the Court finds that the Motion is
The Court also denies a certificate of appealability (“COA”). Federal law provides that an
appeal may not be taken to the court of appeals from a final order in a
§ 2255 proceeding unless a
judge issues a certificate of appealability on the ground that “the applicant has made a substantial
showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2253(c)(2). In Slackv. McDaniel, 529
U.S. 473. 484 (2000), the United States Supreme Court held that “[wjhen the district court denies
a habeas petition on procedural grounds without reaching the prisoner’s underlying constitutional
claim, a COA should issue when the prisoner shows, at least, that jurists of reason would find it
debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right and that
jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the district court was correct in its procedural
ruling.” Here, the Court denies a certificate of appealability pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
because jurists of reason would not find it debatable that dismissal of the Motion is correct.
For the reasons set forth above, the Motion is DISMISSED as time-barred, and the Court
denies a certificate of appealability.
Peter G. Sheridan, U.SJLJ.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?