Sanchez-Mendoza v. United States of America
ORDER denying re 1 Motion to Vacate/Set Aside/Correct Sentence (2255) filed by Rudolfo Sanchez-Mendoza.. Signed by Honorable Timothy D. DeGiusti on 12/23/16. (ml)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Case No. CR-14-166-D
The matter before the Court is Defendant’s Motion to Correct Sentence Under 28
U.S.C. § 2255 [Doc. No. 35], filed pro se on June 20, 2016. Defendant seeks relief from a
prison sentence imposed in 2014 for illegal reentry into the United States after removal,
based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015).
The government has responded in opposition to the Motion. Because the existing record
shows Defendant is not entitled to relief, the Court finds that the Motion should be denied.1
On June 27, 2014, Defendant pleaded guilty to the charge of the Indictment of being
an alien who was removed from the United States and later found to be knowingly present
here without the consent of the proper authorities, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a). On
December 4, 2014, the Court sentenced Defendant to a 54-month prison term, which was
within the range of imprisonment determined under the applicable provision of the United
No evidentiary hearing is needed where the existing record conclusively shows the defendant is
not entitled to relief. See United States v. Lopez, 100 F.3d 113, 121 (10th Cir. 1996); 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b).
States Sentencing Guidelines, § 2L1.2.2 In computing Defendant’s advisory guideline range,
the Court applied a 16-level enhancement authorized by § 2L1.2(b)(1)(A)(ii) because
Defendant had a felony conviction that was a “crime of violence” as defined by commentary
to § 2L1.2. Specifically, Defendant pleaded guilty in 2003 in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma,
to arson, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy to commit arson.3
Defendant appealed his sentence, but the appeal was dismissed as frivolous. See United
States v. Sanchez-Mendoza, 618 F. App’x 395, 398 (10th Cir. 2016).4
Defendant asserts a single ground for relief based on the alleged unconstitutionality
of his sentence under Johnson, in which the Supreme Court invalidated a provision of the
Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). The decision in Johnson is
retroactively applicable on collateral review. See Welch v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 1257,
1265-66 (2016). From the record, it appears that Defendant has not previously sought relief
under § 2255, and the Motion was timely filed under § 2255(f)(1) within one year after his
conviction and sentence became final. However, it plainly appears Defendant’s claim for
relief lacks merit because the ruling in Johnson has no bearing on his sentence.
In Johnson, the Supreme Court found to be unconstitutionally vague the ACCA’s
definition of “violent felony” under a provision of § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii) commonly known as
Defendant had a total offense level of 21 and a criminal history category of III, which yielded an
advisory guideline range of imprisonment for a term of 46-57 months.
Defendant also pleaded guilty to other felony crimes on other occasions, but the enhancement was
found to apply based on these convictions.
The Court notes that the disposition of Defendant’s appeal post-dated Johnson, but the government
does not raise procedural bar as a defense to his § 2255 Motion.
the “residual clause” because it purported to expand a list of enumerated offenses to include
any felony that “otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical
injury to another.” See Johnson, 135 S. Ct. at 2555-56, 2557. The Supreme Court expressly
stated in Johnson that its ruling “does not call into question application of the [ACCA] to the
four enumerated offenses [in § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii)], or the remainder of the Act’s definition of
a violent felony” in § 924(e)(2)(B)(i). See Johnson, 135 S. Ct. at 2563.
The Tenth Circuit has extended the holding of Johnson to declare unconstitutional an
identical “residual clause” provision used to define a “crime of violence” for the career
offender guideline of the Sentencing Guidelines, § 4B1.2(a)(2). See United States v. Madrid,
805 F.3d 1204, 1211 (10th Cir. 2015). Recently, the Tenth Circuit also extended Johnson
to invalidate one definition of “aggravated felony” under the Immigration and Nationality
Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(43). In Golicov v. Lynch, 837 F.3d 1065, 1072 (10th Cir. 2016), the
court held that the incorporation of “crime of violence” as defined by 18 U.S.C. § 16 into
subparagraph (F) of § 1101(a)(43) rendered the term “aggravated felony” unconstitutionally
vague to the extent of the residual definition of § 16(b).
In this case, even liberally construing Defendant’s arguments in light of his pro se
status, the Court can discern no basis for relief under Johnson and its progeny. Defendant’s
sentence was not imposed pursuant to the ACCA, and his guideline range was not calculated
using the career offender guideline. No enhancement was applied to determine Defendant’s
sentence that required a finding of an “aggravated felony” or a “crime of violence” under the
“residual clause” definitions at issue in Johnson, Madrid, Golicov, or other cases.5
Defendant complains of the 16-level enhancement that was used to determine his
offense level under the Sentencing Guidelines because he had a prior felony conviction that
was a “crime of violence” under § 2L1.2(b)(1)(A)(ii). Under this provision, the term “crime
of violence” is defined in commentary to § 2L1.2, which provided at the relevant time as
“Crime of violence” means any of the following offenses under federal, state,
or local law: murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, aggravated assault, forcible
sex offenses . . . , statutory rape, sexual abuse of a minor, robbery, arson,
extortion, extortionate extension of credit, burglary of a dwelling, or any other
offense under federal, state, or local law that has as an element the use,
attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of
U.S.S.G. § 2L1.2, cmt. n.1(B)(iii) (U.S. Sentencing Comm’n 2013) (emphasis added). This
definition does not contain the “residual clause” at issue in Johnson. Further, Defendant’s
prior convictions that qualified him for the 16-level enhancement were crimes of arson and
assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. These offenses are crimes of violence without
regard to any unconstitutionally vague definition of the term.6
Defendant makes no argument regarding the statutory penalties provided by 8 U.S.C. § 1326(b),
but the Court notes that Defendant’s punishment was less than the 10-year maximum sentence authorized by
§ 1326(b)(1) for an alien “whose removal was subsequent to a conviction for commission of . . . a felony
(other than an aggravated felony).” Thus, the greater sentence authorized by the enhanced penalty provision
of § 1326(b)(2) for aliens with a prior “aggravated felony” is not implicated in this case.
The “elements clause” definition for § 2L1.2 is also used for the career offender guideline. The
Tenth Circuit recently held that the crime of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon under Okla. Stat.
tit. 21, § 645, is properly treated as a crime of violence under § 4B1.2(a)(1). See United States v. Taylor,
No. 16-7028, 2016 WL 7187303 (10th Cir. Dec. 12, 2016) (to be published).
Defendant’s advisory guideline range of imprisonment was determined by utilizing
an enhancement that was properly applied because he had a prior felony conviction for arson,
which is an enumerated offense and plainly a “crime of violence.” Therefore, because
Defendant’s sentence was not affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Johnson, Defendant
is not entitled to relief based on that decision.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion to Correct Sentence Under
28 U.S.C. § 2255 [Doc. No. 35] is DENIED. A separate judgment shall be entered.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that pursuant to Rule 11(a) of the Rules Governing
Section 2255 Proceedings, the Court must issue or deny a certificate of appealability
(“COA”) when it enters a final order adverse to a movant. A COA may issue only upon “a
substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.” See 28 U.S.C. §2253(c)(2). “A
petitioner satisfies this standard by demonstrating that jurists of reason could disagree with
the district court’s resolution of his constitutional claims or that jurists could conclude the
issues presented are adequate to deserve encouragement to proceed further.” Miller-El v.
Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 327 (2003); see Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473, 484 (2000). Upon
consideration, the Court finds that this standard is not met. Therefore, a COA is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 23rd day of December, 2016.
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?