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United States v. Smith

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

March 16, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JASON DANIEL SMITH, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF DISMISSAL

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Jason Daniel Smith's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 To Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence By A Person In Federal Custody [CV Doc. 1; CR Doc. 55] and Plaintiff United States' Response To Jason Daniel Smith's Motion To Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [CV Doc. 6; CR Doc. 60]. Counsel was appointed to represent Defendant, in accordance with the Administrative Order In the Matter of Representation in Johnson v. U.S., 576 U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015) Cases, 16-MC-00004, Doc. 19 (D.N.M. March 25, 2016). [CR Doc. 58] Defendant's counsel did not file a reply to the United States' response. Having considered the parties' pleadings, the record, and the applicable law, the Court concludes that an evidentiary hearing is not warranted. For the reasons explained below, Defendant's § 2255 motion will be denied, a certificate of appealability will be denied, and judgment will be entered.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Defendant was charged by Information with:

Count 1
On or about March 14, 2014, in Hidalgo County, in the District of New Mexico, JASON DANIEL SMITH, unlawfully, knowingly and intentionally combined, conspired, confederated and agreed with other persons whose names are known and unknown to the Government to commit an offense against the United States, specifically, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, contrary to 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(D).
In violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846.
Count 2
On or about March 14, 2014, in Hidalgo County, in the District of New Mexico, the defendant JASON DANIEL SMITH, during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime for which the defendant may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, specifically, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana as charged in Count 1 of this Information, knowingly carried a firearm, a SCCY Industries, 9 mm handgun, serial number 030537.
In violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).

[CR Doc. 31] Defendant and the United States entered into a plea agreement, in which Defendant agreed to plead guilty to both counts of the Information and to waive his right to appeal or collaterally attack his conviction and sentence, except on the issue of counsel's ineffective assistance in negotiating or entering into the plea agreement. [CR Doc. 34 at 7]

         The Court accepted Defendant's guilty plea and the plea agreement and sentenced Defendant to 8 months of imprisonment on Count 1 and a consecutive term of 60 months of imprisonment on Count 2, for a total term of 68 months of imprisonment. [CR Docs. 52, 53] The Court also sentenced Defendant to two years of supervised release as to each Count of the Indictment, said terms to run concurrently, for a total effective term of two years of supervised release. [CR Doc. 53] The Court rendered judgment on Defendant's conviction and sentence on April 23, 2015. [CR Doc. 53] Defendant did not file a notice of appeal.

         On June 27, 2016, Defendant filed the present § 2255 motion seeking to vacate his conviction and sentence for carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), in light of the United States Supreme Court's holding in Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which invalidated the residual clause definition of a “crime of violence” in the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii). [CV Doc. 1; CR Doc. 55] The United States responds that “the Supreme Court's holding in Johnson has absolutely no bearing on Mr. Smith's 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) conviction and sentence” because “Mr. Smith's 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) conviction was clearly for carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and not for carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.” [CV Doc. 6 at 3; CR Doc. 60 at 3 (emphasis in original)]

         II. DISCUSSION

         In Johnson, the Supreme Court considered whether the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) violates the due process clause of the United States Constitution. In general, the maximum term of imprisonment for a defendant convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm is ten years. See 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2). “But if the violator has three or more earlier convictions for a ‘serious drug offense' or a ‘violent felony, ' the Armed Career Criminal Act increases his prison term to a minimum of ...


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