United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
DARREN J. BELL, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
KEITH WATKINS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Darren J. Bell, a federal inmate, has moved to vacate, set
aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
Petitioner was convicted of bank robbery in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 2113(a) (Count 1) and brandishing a firearm
during a “crime of violence” in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(ii) (Count 2). The bank robbery
conviction served as the predicate crime of violence for
Petitioner's § 924(c) conviction. Petitioner argues
that, considering Johnson v. United States, 135
S.Ct. 2551 (2015), his bank robbery conviction cannot serve
as the predicate offense for his § 924(c) conviction
because § 924(c)(3)'s residual clause is
unconstitutionally vague. Thus, he says, his sentence is
Magistrate Judge recommended that Petitioner's §
2255 motion be denied and this case dismissed with prejudice.
(Doc. # 16.) Petitioner objected to that
Recommendation. (Docs. # 23, 27.) After an independent and
de novo review of the record, the Recommendation,
and the objections, the court will sustain the objections in
part, overrule them in part, and adopt the Recommendation as
first objects to the Recommendation's characterization of
his predicate conviction as one for “armed” bank
robbery. That objection has merit. Petitioner was convicted
for bank robbery under § 2113(a), which does not
necessarily involve the use of a dangerous weapon. Section
2113(d) enhances the penalty if an offender uses a dangerous
weapon in committing a bank robbery under § 2113(a). The
Recommendation cites In re Hines, 824 F.3d 1334
(11th Cir. 2016), in concluding that Petitioner's bank
robbery conviction is a “crime of violence” under
§ 924(c)(3)'s use-of-force clause. Hines is
not definitive because it dealt with a conviction under both
§§ 2113(a) and (d).
objection does not change the result, though. The
Recommendation did not solely rely on Hines to reach
its conclusion. It correctly stated that In re Sams,
830 F.3d 1234 (11th Cir. 2016), which cites Hines in
support of its holding, also forecloses Petitioner's
position. In Sams, the court squarely held that
“a bank robbery conviction under § 2113(a) by
force and violence or by intimidation qualifies as a crime of
violence under the § 924(c)(3)(A) use-of-force
clause.” Id. at 1239. Though Sams was
decided in the context of an application for leave to file a
second or successive § 2255 motion, it is nonetheless
binding. See United States v. St. Hubert, 909 F.3d
335, 345 (11th Cir. 2018) (“[T]his Court has already
held that ‘our prior-panel-precedent rule applies with
equal force as to prior panel decisions published in the
context of applications to file second or successive
petitions.'” (quoting In re Lambrix, 776
F.3d 789, 794 (11th Cir. 2015))). Because his conviction under
§ 2113(a) is a crime of violence under §
924(c)(3)'s use-of-force clause, Petitioner is not
entitled to relief under a theory that § 924(c)(3)'s
residual clause is unconstitutionally vague.
takes exception to the Eleventh Circuit's rulings that:
(1) a § 2113(a) conviction is a crime of violence under
§ 924(c)(3)'s use-of-force clause; and (2) published
orders addressing leave to file a second § 2255 motion
constitute binding precedent for courts addressing the merits
of those motions. This court, of course, may not entertain
those arguments. There is only one Eleventh Circuit, and this
is not it. Cf. West Ala. Women's Ctr. v.
Williamson, 900 F.3d 1310, 1330 (11th Cir. 2018)
(“In our judicial system, there is only one Supreme
Court, and we are not it.”).
it is ORDERED:
Magistrate Judge's Recommendation (Doc. # 16) is ADOPTED
as modified herein.
Petitioner's objections (Docs. # 23, 27) are SUSTAINED in
part and OVERRULED in part.
Petitioner's § 2255 motion (Doc. # 2) is DENIED.
This case is DISMISSED with prejudice.
separate final judgment will be entered.