United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
MILES-LaGRANGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Arthur Willard Estrada (“Estrada”), a federal
prisoner, filed a Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to
Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal
Custody. Plaintiff-Respondent United States of America has
filed its response.
November 3, 1999, Estrada and three others were indicted on
various drug offenses. Estrada's co-defendants entered
guilty pleas, but Estrada elected to go to trial. The jury
found defendant guilty on two counts - a misdemeanor for
possession of a controlled substance and a felony for being a
felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 922(g)(1). The Presentence Investigation Report stated
that Estrada qualified as an armed career criminal under the
Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), 18 U.S.C.
§ 924(e)(1), based on Estrada's prior convictions.
The Court found that Estrada was an armed career criminal and
sentenced him to 235 months of imprisonment. The judgment was
affirmed on appeal. See United States v. Estrada, 25
Fed.Appx. 814 (10th Cir. Jan. 25, 2002).
§ 2255 motion, Estrada asserts that in light of the
United States Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v.
United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), he is no longer an
armed career criminal because two of his ACCA predicate
convictions, convictions for robbery in the state of
California, no longer qualify as ACCA violent felonies in
light of a 2015 Ninth Circuit opinion, and that his sentence,
therefore, should be vacated. In Johnson, the United
States Supreme Court held “that imposing an increased
sentence under the residual clause of the Armed Career
Criminal Act violates the Constitution's guarantee of due
process.” Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2563. However,
the Supreme Court held that “[t]oday's decision
does not call into question application of the Act to the
four enumerated offenses, or the remainder of the Act's
definition of a violent felony.” Id.
response, the government asserts that Johnson
affords relief only if the defendant can establish he was
sentenced under the now-invalid residual clause. The
government further asserts that Estrada has not shown that at
the time of his sentence, the robbery convictions at issue
qualified as an ACCA predicate only under the residual clause
and, therefore, has not met his burden of proving a
Johnson error. Finally, the government asserts that
since Estrada has failed to show that he was sentenced under
the residual clause, his § 2255 motion should be denied.
Tenth Circuit has held that a § 2255 movant asserting a
Johnson claim has the burden to establish that his
ACCA sentence enhancement was based upon a conviction that
fell under the residual clause. See United States v.
Snyder, 871 F.3d 1122 (10th Cir. 2017). Having reviewed
the parties' submissions, as well as the court file in
this matter, the Court finds that Estrada has not met his
burden of establishing he was sentenced under the now-invalid
residual clause. At Estrada's sentencing, the sentencing
judge did not make any findings specifying on which clause of
the ACCA's violent felony definition the Court was
relying. However, even when the sentencing record is unclear,
it may be possible to determine that a sentencing court did
not rely on the residual clause by looking to the relevant
background legal environment at the time of the sentencing.
See Snyder, 871 F.3d at 1129. At the time of
Estrada's sentencing, the Tenth Circuit generally held
that robbery convictions qualified as violent felonies under
the elements clause of the ACCA. See e.g., United States
v. Lujan, 9 F.3d 890, 892 (10th Cir. 1993). The Court,
therefore, finds that Estrada's Johnson claim
forth above, Estrada's motion does not set forth a basis
for relief from his conviction or sentence. Because that
determination is conclusively shown from the motion, files,
and record, the Court finds there is no need for an
evidentiary hearing on this motion. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255; United States v. Kennedy, 225 F.3d
1187, 1193 (10th Cir. 2000).
for the reasons set forth above, the Court DENIES
Estrada's Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate,
Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal