Bowen v. United States of America
ORDER denying Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence (2255). Signed by Honorable Robin J. Cauthron on 4/11/17. (lg)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
GERALD LAMAR BOWEN,
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Defendant filed a pro se Motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to seek relief from
his sentence of imprisonment. The Court appointed counsel to assist Defendant and
counsel has filed a supplement to Defendant’s Motion, as well as a Reply to Plaintiff’s
Defendant was charged in a two-count Indictment alleging the crimes of Armed
Bank Robbery. He entered a plea of guilty to both counts. In preparation for sentencing,
a Pre-Sentence Report was prepared which concluded Defendant was a Career Offender
under USSG 4B1.1 based on two previous crimes of violence. The resulting Guideline
range was 188 to 235 months for Count 1. The statute governing Count 2 required a fiveyear sentence. Defendant was sentenced to 188 months on Count 1 and 60 months on
Count 2, to run consecutively.
Relying on Johnson v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), and
United States v. Madrid, 805 F.3d 1204, 1210-11 (10th Cir. 2015), Defendant argues that
his sentence was calculated, in part, on a now-invalid basis. In Johnson, the Supreme
Court held the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924, was
unconstitutionally vague. In Madrid, the Tenth Circuit applied the Supreme Court’s
reasoning in holding the residual clause of § 4B1.1 to likewise be unconstitutionally vague.
Defendant asserts that when sentencing him the Court applied the Career Offender
provisions of the Sentencing Guidelines that have now been invalidated and that he should
In Beckles v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017), the Supreme Court
overruled Madrid, and held “the advisory Sentencing Guidelines are not subject to a
vagueness challenge under the Due Process Clause and that § 4B1.2(a)’s residual clause is
not void for vagueness.” Id., at 895. However, because Defendant here was sentenced
at a time the Guidelines were mandatory rather than advisory, Beckles may not be
dispositive of his § 2255 Motion. Because Defendant’s claim fails on the merits, it is
unnecessary to resolve the applicability of Beckles.
Assuming without deciding that Beckles does not foreclose Defendant’s claim for
relief, the issue is whether Defendant’s prior convictions can qualify as predicate offenses
under a clause of USSG § 4B1.1 other than the residual clause.
As noted above, Defendant has a prior conviction for violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 2113(a) and (d) and for violation of § 13-902 of the Arizona statutes. Defendant argues
that neither can qualify as a predicate felony as neither has as an element the use, attempted
use, or threatened use of physical force. However, as Plaintiff notes, the Fourth Circuit
has held to the contrary:
Bank robbery under § 2113(a), “by force and violence,” requires the
use of physical force. Bank robbery under § 2113(a), “by intimidation,”
requires the threatened use of physical force. Either of those alternatives
includes an element that is “the use, attempted use, or threatened use of
physical force,” and thus bank robbery under § 2113(a) constitutes a crime
of violence under the force clause of § 924(c)(3).
United States v. McNeal, 818 F.3d 141, 153 (4th Cir. 2016), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___,
137 S.Ct. 164 (2016). Because Defendant was also convicted of violating § 2113(d), the
conviction included an additional element of force. Section 2113(d) states:
Whoever, in committing, or in attempting to commit, any offense
defined in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, assaults any person, or puts
in jeopardy the life of any person by the use of a dangerous weapon or device,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty-five years,
The Tenth Circuit has recognized that violation of this paragraph establishes the use
or threatened use of violent force. See United States v. Silva, 608 F.3d 663, 670 (10th Cir.
2010) (“Threatening or engaging in menacing conduct toward a victim, with a weapon
capable of producing death or great bodily harm, threatens the use of “violent force” . . . .”).
Thus, the Court finds that Defendant’s prior conviction for violation of § 2113(a) and (d)
is a predicate offense under the elements portion of USSG § 4B1.1.
Defendant’s conviction under Arizona law also properly serves as a predicate
offense. Considering an appeal challenging application of the Career Offender Guideline,
the Ninth Circuit held violation of § 13-902 was a crime of violence. See United States v.
Taylor, 529 F.3d 1232, 1237 (9th Cir. 2008). While Taylor predates recent developments
in this area, the Ninth Circuit continues to hold violation of § 13-902 is a crime of violence
under the ACCA. See United States v. Brice, 593 F. App’x 709, 711 (9th Cir. 2015).
Accordingly, the Court hold that Defendant’s conviction for violating § 13-902 satisfies
the elements clause of USSG § 4B1.1.
For the reasons set forth herein, even when considered on its merits, Defendant’s
request for relief from application of USSG § 4B1.1 will be denied. Defendant’s prior
convictions are adequate to trigger § 4B1.1 via application of the elements clause and
without regard to the residual clause. Thus his § 2255 Motion will be denied as to this
ground for relief.
Defendant argues his sentence enhancement pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3)(B),
must be set aside as that statute suffers from the same vagueness issues as 18 U.S.C.
According to Defendant, both statutes use similar language and
therefore the Supreme Court’s reasoning should apply to both.
As Plaintiff notes,
Defendant’s argument fails on the merits. As discussed above, Defendant had at least two
prior convictions for violent felonies.
Thus, his sentence could be enhanced under
§ 924(c)(3)(A). Thus, even assuming a vagueness challenge to § 924(c)(3)(B) was valid,
it would not alter Defendant’s sentence.
For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant’s challenge to his sentence must fail.
Accordingly, Defendant’s Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct
Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (Dkt. No. 37), and the Supplement to Defendant’s
Pro Se Motion Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2255 (Dkt. No. 45), are DENIED. A separate
Judgment shall issue.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 11th day of April, 2017.
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?