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Clements v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division

December 14, 2018

JON PAUL CLEMENTS Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH R. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Pending before the court is the petitioner's Emergency Motion to Correct Sentence Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [ECF No. 82]. This action was referred to the Honorable Dwane L. Tinsley, United States Magistrate Judge, for submission to this court of proposed findings of fact and recommendation for disposition (“PF&R”), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). The Magistrate Judge has submitted findings of fact and has recommended that the court deny the petitioner's § 2555 motion.

         The petitioner timely filed written objections [ECF No. 102], and the Government did not respond. Having reviewed de novo the portions of the PF&R to which the petitioner objects, the court FINDS that the petitioner's arguments are without merit and DENIES the petitioner's § 2255 Motion [ECF No. 82].

         II. Factual Background

         Because neither party objects to the Magistrate Judge's factual findings, the court adopts and incorporates them in full.

         III. Legal Standard

         When a Magistrate Judge issues a recommendation on a dispositive matter, the court reviews de novo those portions of the Magistrate Judge's report to which specific objections are filed. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). When a party files an objection that is too general or conclusory to focus attention on any specific error supposedly committed by the Magistrate Judge, the court need not conduct a de novo review. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins., 416 F.3d 310, 316 (4th Cir. 2005); Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). Moreover, when a party fails to object to a portion of the Magistrate Judge's report, the court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation. See Diamond, 416 F.3d at 315. The court has discerned two objections, which I will be discuss in turn.

         IV. Discussion

         1. Teague v. Lane and Its Progeny Provide the Correct Analytical Framework

         The petitioner first objects to the Magistrate Judge failing to consider the merits of his Descamps, Mathis, and Hinkle arguments as outlined in his pro se filing [ECF No. 96].[1] These decisions (“the Predicate Offense Cases”) address the application of the categorical approach when determining whether a prior conviction is a predicate offense for the career offender guideline sentencing enhancement. Specifically, under the Predicate Offense Cases, the petitioner argues that two of his felony convictions are no longer considered predicate offenses under § 4B1.2 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

         The Magistrate Judge found that the petitioner could not rely on the Predicate Offense Cases because none of those cases announced a new rule of constitutional law that has been made retroactive on collateral review. [ECF No. 99 at 5-6]. However, because the petitioner's § 2255 Motion was filed within one year of his judgment becoming final and is not a second or successive petition, relying on whether the Predicate Offense Cases announced a new rule of constitutional law made retroactive was error. Compare § 2255(f)(1) (a § 2255 motion may be filed within one year of “the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final”) with § 2255(f)(3) (if after one year from the conviction becoming final, then, inter alia, a year from “the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court”); see also United States v. Thomas, 627 F.3d 534, 536 (4th Cir. 2010) (recognizing that a new right under 2255(f)(3) can be based “upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States”) (emphasis added); cf. § 2255(h) (second petitions require, inter alia, “a new rule of constitutional law”).

         Instead, Teague and its progeny provide the correct analytical framework as to whether the petitioner can make substantive arguments under the Predicate Offense Cases on collateral review. To that extent, the petitioner's objection is sustained. Nevertheless, as discussed below, his § 2255 Motion still fails.

         a. Te ...


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