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United States v. Lawrence

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

April 7, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM J. LAWRENCE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER RE: MOTION TO VACATE

          JUSTIN L. QUACKENBUSH, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT is the Defendant's Motion to Vacate (ECF No. 100). Defendant seeks to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and based on Johnson v. U.S., 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). Defendant argued Johnson makes the residual clause of U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a) void for vagueness. He also argued this court should re-evaluate its findings at sentencing that he had two or more qualifying convictions in light of the current legal landscape and find his Burglary and Credit Union Robbery convictions are not currently crimes of violence. As a result, Defendant asserted he does not qualify as a career offender and should be re-sentenced without that enhancement applied to his Guideline Range.

         In response, the Government conceded Johnson invalidated the residual clause of U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a), but opposed the Motion and requested a stay pending the Supreme Court decision in Beckles v. U.S., No. 15-8544. (ECF No. 104).

         Defendant, in his Reply brief, asserted this matter should not be stayed, incorporating briefs filed in two other cases: U.S. v. Bacon, No. 2:10-CR-00025-JLQ, and U.S. v. Crause, No. 2:10-CR-00040-JLQ. (ECF No. 105).

         On March 6, 2017, the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Beckles, holding “the advisory Guidelines are not subject to vagueness challenges under the Due Process Clause.” Beckles v. U.S., __ S.Ct.__, 2017 WL 855781 at *3 (March 6, 2017). The same day, Defendant filed a Notice which requested the court to wait 14 days before issuing a ruling on the Motion so counsel could discuss Beckles with her client. (ECF No. 108). That time has passed and no filing has been made.

         The Motion to Vacate was submitted to this court for hearing without oral argument. This Order memorializes the court's rulings on this matter.

         I. Background

         A. Procedural History

         On April 11, 2006, a Criminal Complaint was filed alleging the Defendant, William J. Lawrence, took by force, violence, and intimidation approximately $2, 572.00 from Horizon Credit Union. (ECF No. 1). On April 18, 2006, an Indictment was returned charging Defendant with two counts of Credit Union Robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). (ECF No. 10). On August 22, 2006, Defendant pled guilty to both counts of the Indictment. (ECF No. 44).

         On October 20, 2006, the court held a sentencing hearing wherein the court addressed Defendant's criminal history. At the time of sentencing, Defendant's criminal history included one Montana conviction for Burglary and one previous federal conviction for Credit Union Robbery.

         Defendant objected to the Presentence Investigation Report which concluded Defendant's Burglary and Credit Union Robbery convictions constituted crimes of violence and made him a Career Offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. See (ECF No. 47).

         Specifically, Defendant argued the Burglary conviction was not a crime of violence because no one was present in the home at the time, Defendant knew this fact, and these facts disqualified the conviction from being burglary of a “dwelling.” The court found the Burglary conviction was a crime of violence and found Defendant was a Career Offender by reason of the Burglary and Credit Union Robbery convictions. As a Career Offender, Defendant's Guideline Range was 155 to 188 months.

         The court imposed a sentence of 168 months incarceration. (ECF No. 58). The court also stated at the 2006 sentencing hearing:

Sometimes there unfortunately are individuals where the only option I believe the Court should exercise is to lock certain individuals up for a substantial portion of the rest of their life, not just because of punishment but primarily to protect society. If we had individuals such as you, whether it's caused by drug use or injury, whatever it might be, running around the country robbing banks, putting people in terror, burglarizing homes, this society would be chaos. So in your case, not only must I determine what appropriate punishment is for you, but I ...

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