Argued: November 15, 2019
Nelson Estremera filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or
correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.
Estremera principally argues that his prior Connecticut state
convictions for first- and second-degree robbery do not
categorically qualify as violent felonies under the force
clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA").
Based on our decision in Shabazz v. United States,
912 F.3d 73 (2d Cir. 2019), we disagree. Accordingly, the
judgment of the district court is AFFIRMED.
Petitioner-Appellant: Charles F. Willson, Federal
Defender's Office, Hartford, CT.
Respondent-Appellee: Marc H. Silverman, Assistant United
States Attorney, for John H. Durham, United States
Attorney for the District of Connecticut, New Haven, CT.
Before: Leval, Livingston, and Bianco, Circuit Judges.
ANN LIVINGSTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Nelson Estremera appeals from a denial of his motion to
vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255. Estremera principally argues that his
prior Connecticut state convictions for first- and
second-degree robbery do not categorically qualify as violent
felonies under the force clause of the Armed Career Criminal
Act ("ACCA") and, therefore, the fifteen-year
minimum sentence mandated by the ACCA for individuals with
three prior qualifying convictions should not apply to him.
For the reasons stated below, we disagree and affirm the
judgment of the district court.
December 13, 2006, a jury found Estremera guilty of being a
felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e). The indictment identified
three prior convictions: (1) first degree robbery and
attempted robbery, in violation of Connecticut General
Statutes §§ 53a-134(a)(3) and 53a-49; (2) second
degree robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, in violation
of Connecticut General Statutes §§ 53a-135(a)(1)
and 53a-48; and (3) conspiracy to distribute more than 5
grams of cocaine base, 500 grams of cocaine, and a quantity
of heroin and marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and 846. Based on these three prior
convictions, the district court concluded that Estremera fell
within the ambit of the ACCA, which provides for a
fifteen-year mandatory minimum sentence "[i]n the case
of a person who . . . has three previous convictions . . .
for a violent felony or serious drug offense, or both . . .
." 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). We affirmed
Estremera's sentence on direct appeal. United States
v. Estremera, 282 Fed.Appx. 935, 939 (2d Cir. 2008).
the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United
States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which invalidated the
residual clause of the ACCA's definition of "violent
felony," Estremera initiated this collateral proceeding
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. He argued that his
Connecticut robbery convictions did not qualify as violent
felonies under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B), and therefore
his sentence was improperly imposed. The district court
denied his petition but granted a certificate of
appealability. Estremera timely appealed.
review de novo all questions of law relating to the
district court's application of a federal sentence
enhancement." United States v. Beardsley, 691
F.3d 252, 257 (2d Cir. 2012) (italics added). In determining
whether an offense is a violent felony under the ACCA's
force clause, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(i), we employ the
categorical approach. See Taylor v. United States,
495 U.S. 575, 600 (1990). Under the categorical approach,
courts "focus solely on whether the elements of the
crime of conviction sufficiently match the elements of [the
generic crime], while ignoring the particular facts of the
case." Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243,
2248 (2016). Where, however, a statute has "a more
complicated (sometimes called 'divisible')
structure," the modified categorical approach applies.
Id. at 2249. Under this approach, we may
"look to a limited class of documents (for example,
the indictment, jury instructions, or plea agreement and
colloquy) to determine what crime, with what elements, a
defendant was convicted of." Id.
decision in Shabazz v. United States, 912 F.3d 73
(2d Cir. 2019), resolves this appeal. There, we held that
Connecticut's simple robbery statute, Connecticut General
Statute § 53a-133, qualifies as a violent felony under
the ACCA's force clause. Id. at 78. As relevant
to this appeal, Estremera was convicted under Connecticut
General Statute § 53a-134(a)(3) (first-degree robbery)
and Connecticut General Statute § 53a-135(a)(1)
(second-degree robbery). Section 53a-134(a) enumerates
different ways of committing first-degree robbery, but every
manner of committing robbery defined therein requires that
the defendant commit "the crime of robbery as defined in
section 53a-133." Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-134(a).
Similarly, Section 53a-135(a) defines multiple ways of
committing second-degree robbery, but the subsection under
which Estremera was convicted defines the crime in part as
"commit[ting] robbery, as defined in section
53a-133." Id. § 53a-135(a)(1).
other words, the statutes under which Estremera was convicted
require that he have committed simple robbery. And, as noted
above, simple robbery is categorically a violent felony.
See Shabazz, 912 F.3d at 78 ("[A]ny violation
of § 53a-133 qualifies as an ACCA predicate.");
see also United States v. Bordeaux, 886 F.3d 189,
194 (2d Cir. 2018) (holding that § 53a-134(a)(4)
qualifies as a violent ...