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Morris v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

July 25, 2018

WAYNE NEVILLE MORRIS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ORDER

          JOHN C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner Wayne Neville Morris' (“Morris”) motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. section 2255 (Dkt. No. 1), motion to present post-sentencing factors (Dkt. No. 17), and motion for leave to amend his reply (Dkt. No. 23).[1] Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court hereby DENIES the motions (Dkt. Nos. 1, 17, 23) for the reasons explained below.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 10, 1999, Morris was convicted of one count each of the following felonies: Conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery under 18 U.S.C. section 371, armed bank robbery under 18 U.S.C. section 2113(a) and (d), use of a firearm during a crime of violence (armed bank robbery) under 18 U.S.C. section 924(c)(1)(A), assault on a federal officer by means and use of a dangerous weapon under 18 U.S.C. section 111, and use of a firearm during a crime of violence (assault on a federal officer) under 18 U.S.C. section 924(c)(1)(A)(iii). See United States v. Morris, No. CR99-0174-JCC, Dkt. Nos. 151, 217-1 (W.D. Wash. 1999). The Court sentenced Morris to 528 months imprisonment. Id. at Dkt. No. 217-1. Morris' two convictions under section 924(c) each carried mandatory minimum sentences because the predicate offenses (armed bank robbery and assault on a federal officer) qualified as “crimes of violence” as defined in that provision. Id.; 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3).

         Morris appealed his conviction and sentence, both of which were affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.[2] See United States v. Morris, 43 Fed.Appx. 150, 158 (9th Cir. 2002). In 2004, Morris filed a habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2255 that challenged this Court's jurisdiction over his criminal case. See Morris v. United States of America, No. C04-0266-JCC, Dkt. No. 1 (W.D. Wash. 2004). The Court denied his habeas petition. Id. at Dkt. No. 38. The Court of Appeals denied Morris' request for a certificate of appealability. Id. at Dkt. No. 59.

         In 2015, the United States Supreme Court held that the residual clause contained in 18 U.S.C. section 924(e)(2)(b)(ii) defining “violent felony” under the Armed Career Criminal Act was unconstitutionally vague. Johnson v. United States. 135 S.Ct. 2551, 2557 (2015) (“Johnson II”). Based on Johnson II, Morris filed a motion with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking leave to file a successive section 2255 petition. See No. CR99-0174-JCC, Dkt. No. 220. The Court of Appeals granted Morris' motion, noting that he made a prima facie showing for relief under Johnson II. Id. at Dkt. No. 221.

         In this successive section 2255 petition, Morris asks the Court to extend the holding in Johnson II to invalidate a similarly-worded clause found in section 924(c)(3)(B) that underlies his convictions for crimes of violence-armed bank robbery as charged in count 3 and assault on a federal officer by means of a dangerous weapon as charged in count 5. (Dkt. Nos. 1 at 2, 9 at 2-3, 21 at 4.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard for Section 2255 Petitions

         To state a cognizable 28 U.S.C. section 2255 claim, a petitioner must assert that he or she is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, that the district court lacked jurisdiction, that the sentence exceeded the maximum allowed by law, or that the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). A habeas petitioner bears the burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that an error occurred. See Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 468-69 (1938); Simmons v. Blodgett, 110 F.3d 39, 41-42 (9th Cir. 1997).

         B. Morris' Claims for Relief

         Morris claims that if the Court were to extend the holding in Johnson II to invalidate the analogous residual clause of section 924(c)(3)(B), then his convictions under that section would have to be vacated because armed bank robbery and assault on a federal officer by means of a dangerous weapon would no longer meet the statutory definition as a “crime of violence.” (Dkt. No. 1 at 4.) The Government asserts that Morris' petition is both procedurally defective and without merit. (Dkt. No. 20 at 4.)

         The Court finds it is unnecessary to address the Government's procedural arguments or to reach the question of whether section 924(c)(3)(B) is unconstitutionally vague under Johnson II. Under Ninth Circuit precedent, Morris' convictions for armed bank robbery and assault on a federal officer by means of a dangerous weapon are crimes of violence as defined by section 924(c)(3)(A).

         1. 18 U.S.C. ...


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