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Reid v. United States

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

August 29, 2017

TERRANCE REID, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

          RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO VACATE, SET ASIDE, OR CORRECT SENTENCE

          Jenet Bond Arterton, U.S.D.J.

         Petitioner Terrance Reid ("Mr. Reid") filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence ("Mot. to Vacate") [Doc. # 1] pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in light of the holding in Johnson v. United States, 576 U.S.___, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015) ("2015 Johnson"), which struck down the Residual Clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA"), 18 U.S.C. § 942(e).[1] Petitioner argues that the Court miscalculated his base offense level by treating his prior Connecticut convictions for assault as a "crime of violence" and that the holding in Johnson explicitly forbids a calculation based on this reasoning. Respondent United States (the "Government") opposes the Motion, arguing that Mr. Reid's waiver of the right to collaterally attack his sentence, as set forth in his plea agreement, forecloses the first argument and that Johnson does not apply retroactively to the residual clause set forth in U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a)(2), foreclosing his second argument. In light of the Supreme Court's holding in Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017), and because he waived his right to collaterally attack his conviction, Mr. Reid's petition must be denied.

         I. Background

         After a suspicious conversation between Mr. Reid and a police officer in front of a New Haven nightclub in March, 2008, the police walked over to Mr. Reid's vehicle and saw a handgun in plain view on the front seat. A grand jury subsequently indicted Mr. Reid on one count, charging him with unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). Mr. Reid waived his right to that indictment and pleaded guilty to a substitute Information that charged him with possession of a stolen firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(j) and 924(a)(2). (See 08-cr-115, Criminal Information [Doc. # 36]; Waiver of Indictment [Doc. # 37]; Executed Plea Agreement [Doc. # 39].)

         The Plea agreement stipulated that:

Terence Reid agrees to plead guilty to Count One of the Information, charging him with possession of a stolen firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 922(j) and 924(a)(2).. .. The Government and the defendant agree that, under U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(a)(2), the defendant's base offense level is 24. [After adjustments, the resulting offense level was 27.] The parties agree that the defendant has accumulated 12 criminal history points, and is therefore a Criminal History Category V. At an adjusted offense level of 27 and a Criminal History Category V, the resulting Sentencing Guideline range will be 120-150 months' imprisonment.... Because the defendant is subject to a maximum statutory penalty of 120 months' imprisonment, the effective guideline range is 120 months.

(Executed Plea Agreement at 4.) The guidelines would have advised a sentence of 130-162 months' imprisonment, but because of the statutory maximum, the parties agreed that 120 months was the appropriate guideline range.

         The Plea agreement also contained the following waiver:

The defendant acknowledges that under certain circumstances he is entitled to challenge his conviction and sentence. It is specifically agreed that the defendant will not . . . collaterally attack in any proceeding, including but not limited to a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and/or § 2241, the conviction or sentence imposed by the Court if that sentence does not exceed 120 months' incarceration .... The defendant acknowledges that he is knowingly and intelligently waiving these rights.

(Id. at 5.) The Court imposed a sentence of 120 months running concurrently with a state sentence. (Judgment [Doc. # 47] at 1.)

During the sentencing hearing, Mr. Reid orally confirmed that he understood his waiver:
THE COURT: In your agreement you have specifically agreed you will not appeal or collaterally attack in any proceeding, including what we call a 2255 or a 2241, your conviction or your sentence of imprisonment imposed by the Court if that sentence is not more than 120 months, no matter what analysis the Court reaches that sentence by. Do you understand that? THE DEFENDANT: Yes, your honor.

(Ex. A. ("Plea Tr.") to Respondent's Opp'n [Doc. # 7-1] at 25; see also Plea Tr. at 30 (THE COURT: "There is a statutory right to appeal your sentence if you think that sentence is contrary to law, but as we reviewed earlier, you have specifically agreed that you won't appeal or collaterally attack any conviction or sentence of imprisonment if it doesn't exceed 120 months."). In his Petition to Enter Plea of Guilty, Mr. Reid confirmed that his guilty plea was made "freely and voluntarily" and of his own accord. (See Plea Petition [Doc. # 38] at 13.)

         Mr. Reid's sentence was calculated under U.S.S.G. 2K2.1(a)(2), which declares that a defendant's base offense level shall be 24 "if the defendant committed any part of the instant offense subsequent to sustaining at least two felony convictions ...


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