United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
14, 2016, Christopher Earl Oden filed with a counseled motion
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2255. (Doc. 1). He asks this
court to vacate the sentence imposed upon him on September
25, 2012, in case 2:12-CR-201-JHH-RRA. (Crim. Doc. 12). Mr. Oden
was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm,
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). (Id.).
At sentencing, the court applied the Armed Career Criminal
Act ("ACCA") enhancement based upon its finding that
Mr. Oden had three or more prior convictions that qualified
as "violent felonies" under the ACCA. Without that
enhancement, the statutory maximum sentence authorized by law
(absent other statutory provisions, none of which are at
issue in this case) was 120 months.
parties' joint request (Doc. 5), this Court stayed this
action on July 19, 2016, pending a decision by the Eleventh
Circuit Court of Appeals in either of the following cases:
United States v. Heard, No. 15-10612, or United
States v. Gundy, No. 14-13113. The Eleventh Circuit
decided United States v. Gundy, 842 F.3d 1156 (11th
Cir. 2017) in a published opinion issued on February 22,
2017. On February 23, 2017, the Government notified the Court
of the Gundy decision. (Doc. 7). The Court lifted
the stay and ordered Mr. Oden to show cause why his petition
should not be dismissed or denied in light of that decision.
(Doc. 8). Mr. Oden replied on March 13, 2017. (Doc. 9).
However, on June 16, 2017, the parties advised the Court that
a petition for writ of certiorari as to the Gundy
decision was pending before the United States Supreme Court
and asked this Court to further stay this action pending a
decision by the Supreme Court. (See Docs. 11 and
13). The Court agreed and accordingly stayed this action
again. (Doc. 14). On October 4, 2017, the Government advised
this Court that the Gundy petition had been denied. (Doc.
15). On November 6, 2017, the Court ordered the parties to
show cause why the stay should not be lifted and to file any
remaining arguments. (Doc. 16). The parties have now done so.
(Docs. 17 and 18). The matter is therefore ripe for
premise for Mr. Oden's motion is that application of the
ACCA enhancement to him was error in light of the Supreme
Court's decision in Johnson v. United States,
135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), as made retroactively applicable by
Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257 (2016). (Doc.
1 at 3)("In light of Johnson v. United States
[...] and Welch v. United States [...], Mr. Oden is
entitled to be resentenced without the ACCA enhancement
because his Alabama and Georgia burglary convictions no
longer qualify as violent felonies.").
The Underlying Criminal Case
The Underlying Criminal Case.
2012, Mr. Oden was charged with one count of possession of a
firearm by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g)(1). (Crim. Doc. 1).
a. He pleaded guilty to the charge in June 2012. (Crim. Doc.
b. The Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”)
recommended that Mr. Oden's sentence be enhanced under
the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C.
§ 924(e). (PSR, ¶ 17). The ACCA provides for an
increased sentence for a defendant who is convicted under 18
U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and has three prior violent felony or
serious drug offense convictions. The PSR counted the
following convictions as violent felonies for application of
i. 2005 Alabama burglary, third degree, id.
¶¶ 19, 31;
ii. 2007 Georgia burglary (four counts), id. at
¶¶ 19, 32.
c. Without the ACCA enhancement, the maximum sentence Mr.
Oden could have received was 10 years (120 months).
See 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2). However, as an armed
career criminal, he faced a mandatory minimum 15-year
(180-month) sentence and a ...