Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mitchell v. United States

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

September 24, 2019

ALEX NATHAN MITCHELL, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KARON OWEN BOWDRE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the court on Alex Nathan Mitchell’s motion to amend (pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e)), the court’s denial of his 28 U.S.C. § 2255 habeas petition. (Doc. 16.) Mr. Mitchell asks the court to both reconsider the ruling in light of Weeks v. United States, 930 F.3d 1263 (11th Cir. 2019) and grant a certificate of appealability. The Government responded to the motion (Doc. 18), and Mr. Mitchell replied (Doc. 20).

         This court’s memorandum opinion of July 22, 2019 explained in detail the lengthy procedural history of this case-and the even lengthier evolution of federal appellate courts’ treatment of the Armed Career Criminal Act. (Doc. 13.) The narrow issue presented on this motion is whether the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Weeks-which allows a court contemplating a Johnson movant’s ACCA sentence enhancement to consider the appeals record-entitles Mr. Mitchell to habeas relief. For the reasons explained below, the court finds that Mr. Mitchell is not entitled to relief will DENY the motion and request for a certificate of appealability.

         Standard of Review

         Motions filed under Rule 59(e) to alter or amend a judgment require “newly discovered evidence or manifest errors of law or fact.” Arthur v. King, 500 F.3d 1335, 1343 (11th Cir. 2007). An intervening change in controlling law-as Mr. Mitchell alleges here-may qualify a matter for reconsideration. Summit Medical Center of Alabama, Inc. v. Riley, 284 F. Supp. 2d 1350, 1353 (M. D. Ala. 2003). The decision to grant a Rule 59 motion lies within the discretion of the district court and is subject to review for abuse of discretion. Arthur, 500 F.3d at 1343.

         Discussion

         The Armed Career Criminal Act provides that a person who violates 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) and has three prior violent felony or serious drug offense convictions shall face an enhanced sentence. 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). A “violent felony” is a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year that

(i) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another; or
(ii) is burglary, arson, or extortion, involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious risk of physical injury to another.

Id. § 924(e)(2)(B). Historically, courts interpreted this section as containing three clauses, each describing a discrete type of violent felony. Subsection (i) is called the “elements clause” because predicate offenses under this clause must include one of the three stated elements in Subsection (i). Subsection (ii) is split into two clauses: the (a) “enumerated offenses clause” specifically lists “burglary, arson, or extortion,” or a crime that “involves use of explosives”; and (b) the “residual clause,” somewhat of a catch-all, refers to those crimes that “otherwise involve[] conduct that presents a serious risk of physical injury to another.” In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015) ruled that the residual clause is unconstitutionally vague.

         On July 22, 2019, when reviewing Mr. Mitchell’s § 2255 petition in light of Johnson, this court noted that the sentencing court relied on the elements clause, yet on appeal, the Eleventh Circuit upheld the ACCA enhancement by referring only to the residual clause.

         On the same day as this court’s opinion, the Eleventh Circuit issued Weeks. Most relevant to the instant motion, the Eleventh Circuit held that

when a § 2255 movant raising a Samuel Johnson claim has challenged his ACCA sentence enhancement on direct appeal, the § 2255 court may consider the record through the time of the direct appeal, and the relevant legal precedent through that time in determining whether the claimant has proved more likely than not that his enhancement was caused solely by the residual clause.

Weeks, 930 F.3d at 1275. To demonstrate the need for expanding the range of evidence that a court may consider, the Eleventh Circuit presented a hypothetical in which the sentencing court held that a predicate offense met the elements clause, but the appellate court expressly disagreed and relied solely on the residual clause in finding that the predicate offense constituted a violent felony. Id. at 1275 n.9. Under such circumstances, “common sense dictates that the direct ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.