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United States v. Thompson

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

October 26, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
SHAWNTANNA LEMARUS THOMPSON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: September 12, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, at Raleigh. W. Earl Britt, Senior District Judge. (5:15-cr-00058-BR-1)

         ARGUED:

          Jennifer Claire Leisten, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant.

          Phillip Anthony Rubin, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Thomas P. McNamara, Federal Public Defender, Stephen C. Gordon, Chief Appellate Attorney, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant.

          John Stuart Bruce, Acting United States Attorney, Jennifer P. May-Parker, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.

          Before WILKINSON, MOTZ, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges.

          DIANA GRIBBON MOTZ, Circuit Judge

         Shawntanna Lemarus Thompson pled guilty to a drug offense and being a felon in possession of a firearm. The district court increased his sentence, because it found Thompson's previous state conviction for assault inflicting serious bodily injury constituted a "crime of violence" under § 4B1.2 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Thompson appeals, challenging only his sentence. Because the residual clause of § 4B1.2 authorizes the increased sentence, we affirm.

         I.

         In 2015, Thompson pled guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Pursuant to § 4B1.2, the probation officer recommended imposition of an increased sentence because Thompson had previously been convicted of assault inflicting serious bodily injury ("AISBI") in violation of N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-32.4. Thompson objected to the designation of AISBI as a crime of violence, but the district court rejected Thompson's contention. After making various adjustments and granting Thompson's motion for a downward variance, the court imposed an enhanced sentence of 120 months imprisonment and three years of supervised release. Thompson noted a timely appeal, again arguing that his prior conviction for AISBI does not qualify as a crime of violence under § 4B1.2.

         We originally heard oral argument in this case on October 27, 2016. At that time, the Supreme Court had granted certiorari in a case that posed the question, inter alia, of whether the residual clause of § 4B1.2 was void for vagueness. See Beckles v. UnitedStates, 616 Fed.Appx. 415 (11th Cir. 2015), cert. granted, 136 S.Ct. 2510 (2016) (Mem.). We held Thompson's appeal in abeyance awaiting the Court's decision. The Supreme Court ultimately held that "[b]ecause they merely guide the district courts' discretion, the Guidelines are not amenable to a vagueness challenge." Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886, 894 ...


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