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Pruitt v. United States

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

March 29, 2017

DESMOND CHAD PRUITT, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS United States District Judge

         This cause is before the court on Defendant Desmond Chad Pruitt's motion to vacate, set aside, or correct an allegedly illegal sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. cv-1; cr-35, as amplified in Doc. cv-5) and the Government's response (Doc. cv-13). The motion (Doc. cv-1) was filed on April 5, 2016. It is Pruitt's first motion under section 2255. For the reasons set out below, the motion is DENIED.

         Background

         On April 26, 2011, Pruitt pleaded guilty to felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (Doc. cv-1; cr-docket entry dated 4/26/2011). On July 19, 2011, the district court (Hancock, J.) imposed sentence. (Cr-docket entry dated 7/19/2011). Judgment was entered by the district court that same date. (Doc. cr-19). Pruitt was sentenced to a term of 72 months imprisonment. (Id.). Pruitt appealed. (Doc. cr-20). The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed. The Eleventh Circuit entered judgment on October 18, 2012 (Doc. cr-32). On April 5, 2016, the criminal case was reassigned to the undersigned. (Cr-docket entry dated April 5, 2016).

         Discussion

         I. All Claims Not Based on Johnson Are Time-Barred

         On April 24, 1996, a substantial amendment to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 became effective. That amendment, Section 105 of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, established a one-year “period of limitation” for the filing of a Section 2255 motion, to run from the latest of: 1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final; 2) the date any unconstitutional government impediment, if any, precluding the movant from making a motion is removed; 3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the United States Supreme Court; or 4) the date on which the facts supporting the claim could have been discovered through the exercise of due diligence. 28 U.S.C. § 2255, as amended by Pub. L. No. 104-132, Title 1, § 105 (Apr. 24, 1996).

         For final judgments entered after the effective date of the AEDPA, or April 24, 1996, as in this case, the statute of limitations begins to run on the date the district court's judgment of conviction becomes final. “For the purpose of starting the clock on Section 2255's one-year limitation period, a judgment of conviction becomes final when the time expires for filing a petition for certiorari contesting the appellate court's affirmation of the conviction.” Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 525 (2003). Pruitt's judgment of conviction became final on December 13, 2012, when the time for filing a petition for certiorari contesting the appellate court's affirmation of the conviction expired.[1] Pruitt had until December 13, 2013, to file a timely Section 2255 motion to vacate.

         However, Pruitt's petition asserts that his sentence is due to be vacated under Johnson v. United States, 576 U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). He thus implicitly argues that his motion is timely under Section 2255(f)(3).[2], [3] Johnson was issued on June 26, 2015. Thus, under paragraph (f)(3) of Section 2255, the date by which he must present his 2255 petition asserting Johnson is June 26, 2016. Pruitt's motion was filed on April 4, 2016. Thus, any claim asserted by Pruitt under Johnson is timely.[4] However, his other challenges are not.[5]

         II. Pruitt's Johnson Claim Fails on the Merits

         A. U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2 does not violate the Due Process Clause.

         Pruitt “conced[]s that his sentence was not e[]hanced under the Armed Career [C]riminal Act” (Doc. cv-5 at 2), but alleges that his sentence was improperly

enhanced under [§] 2K2.1(a)(4) of the United States [Sentencing] [G]uidelines[, ] [w]hich moved [Pruitt's] base [offense] level from 18 to 20. [T]his increase was brought about by prior convictions considered to be violent, the qualification for those crimes was brought about under the residual clause of the Guidelines contained in § ...

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