United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
OWEN BOWDRE, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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).
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
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.
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
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.
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 ...