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Morton v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

January 24, 2017

ALEXANDER THOMAS MORTON, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Criminal No. 2:05-CR-0501-SLB-TMP

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case is presently pending before the court on petitioner Alexander Thomas Morton's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody [hereinafter Motion to Vacate]. (Doc. 1; crim. doc. 78.)[1] Citing Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), Morton contends that he was improperly sentenced under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Because binding Eleventh Circuit precedent bars Morton's claims on the merits, the court assumes that his Motion to Vacate is timely filed and is not procedurally barred. For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that Morton's Motion to Vacate is due to be denied and his petition dismissed without notice to the Government. See 28 U.S.C. 2255(b).[2]

         On November 20, 2005, an Indictment was filed against Morton and his co-defendants, Christopher Terrance Powell and Torrance Lorenzo Julius. (Crim. doc. 1.) The Indictment charged Morton, with: Count One, conspiracy to commit bank robbery; Count Two, carjacking; Count Three, brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence (carjacking charged in Count Two); Count Four, armed bank robbery; and Count Five, brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence (armed bank robbery in Count Four). (Id.) Pursuant to a Plea Agreement with the Government, Morton pled guilty to Counts Two through Five and the court dismissed Count One. (Crim. doc. 27; crim. doc. 67.) He was sentenced to 84 months on Count Three and a consecutive sentence of 156 months on Count Five.[3] (Crim. Doc. 67 at 2.)

         On June 27, 2016, Morton, who is proceeding pro se, filed the instant Motion to Vacate. (Crim. doc. 78; doc. 1.) In his Motion to Vacate, Morton challenges his conviction under § 924(c) based on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015); he states:

The language of 18 U.S.C. § 16(b)[4] is unconstitutionally vague regarding what a “crime of violence” is.
. . .
In the Supreme Court case of Johnson vs United States, similar language to that found in 18 U.S.C. § 16(b), which is the "crime of violence" statute, was determined in 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) to be unconstitutionally vague. The enhanced sentence received because of this can be considered to be a constitutional violation.
The Johnson decision was determined to be new constitutional law made retroactive and applicable by the Supreme Court decision in Welch.
I am filing this Motion under the Johnson/Welch provisions.
. . .
. . . 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) is unconstitutionally vague given the language is similar to that found unconstitutionally vague in 18 U.S.C. § 924(e).
. . .
In the Supreme Court case of Johnson vs United States and now made retroactive by the Welch decision as new substantive law, the language in 924(e) was found to be unconstitutionally vague. The Movant was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) and sentenced under that statute to an enhanced. sentence. The language of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) is similar to that of 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) which was found to be unconstitutionally vague. This enhanced sentence therefore is a constitutional violation.

(Doc. 1 at 4-5 [footnote added].)[5] Morton contends his Motion to Vacate is timely based on the Johnson ...


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