United States v. Webb, CRIMINAL ACTION NOS. 01-10267-WGY

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
Citation217 F.Supp.3d 381
Docket Number06-10251-WGY,CRIMINAL ACTION NOS. 01-10267-WGY
Parties UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Charlie WEBB, Defendant. United States of America, Plaintiff, v. Timothy Meadows, Defendant.
Decision Date09 November 2016



On September 13, 2016, the Court heard arguments by petitioners Charlie Webb ("Webb") and Timothy Meadows ("Meadows") (collectively, the "Defendants") and the government related to the Defendants' motions to correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Electronic Clerk's Notes, ECF No. 119, Meadows ; Electronic Clerk's Notes, ECF No. 114, Webb . These by now familiar motions come on the heels of the Supreme Court's decisions in Johnson v. United States , ––– U.S. ––––, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 192 L.Ed.2d 569 (2015) (Johnson II ) and Welch v. United States , ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S.Ct. 1257, 194 L.Ed.2d 387 (2016), which have generated a flurry of activity from inmates sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) ("ACCA"), in particular under the now defunct ACCA "residual clause." After taking the Defendants' matters under advisement, this Court now denies Webb's Section 2255 motion to correct his sentence and allows Meadows's Section 2255 motion to correct his sentence. Given the recurrence of the issues discussed, the Court takes the opportunity to explain its reasoning in this memorandum.

A. Webb and Meadows's Sentencings and Further Proceedings

On December 20, 2001, a jury sitting in federal court in Boston convicted Webb of one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Jury Verdict, ECF No. 50, Webb ; J., ECF No. 64, Webb . Similarly, on April 6, 2007, another federal jury sitting in Boston convicted Meadows of one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Jury Verdict, ECF No. 42, Meadows .

An individual convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm is subject to a prison term of no more than ten years, 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2) ; however, if the individual also has "three previous convictions ... for a violent felony or a serious drug offense," he qualifies as an armed career criminal under the ACCA, subject to a minimum sentence of fifteen years in prison, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1) (emphasis added). At the time the Defendants committed their "felon in possession of a firearm" misconduct, "violent felony" was defined as a crime1 that either "has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another," (also known as the "force clause"), is one of the enumerated offenses of "burglary, arson, or extortion," or, in what came to be known as the ACCA "residual clause," "involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another". 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B).

When the time came for sentencing, the United States Probation Department classified both defendants as armed career criminals under the ACCA. Webb PSR 7; Meadows PSR 5. Webb's predicate convictions were: (1) a 1990 conviction for possession with intent to distribute cocaine; (2) a 1990 conviction for possession with intent to distribute cocaine; (3) a 1993 conviction for distribution of cocaine; and (4) 1996 Massachusetts convictions for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon ("ABDW") and larceny from a person. Webb PSR 7, 8-11. Meadows's predicate convictions consisted of: (1) a 1985 conviction for burning a dwelling house; (2) a 1985 Massachusetts conviction for ABDW; and (3) a 1990 conviction for armed robbery while masked. Meadows PSR 5, 8-11. Concluding that the predicate offenses satisfied the armed career criminal requirements of the ACCA, this Court sentenced Webb to a prison term of 288 months on June 20, 2002, J., Webb , and Meadows to a prison term of 180 months on November 8, 2007. J., ECF No. 48-1, Meadows ; Tr. Sentencing Excerpt 3: 8-10, ECF No. 48-2, Meadows . On appeal, the First Circuit affirmed both Defendants' convictions. United States v. Webb , 70 Fed.Appx. 2 (2003) ; United States v. Meadows , 571 F.3d 131 (2009). The Supreme Court denied Webb's petition for certiorari on December 1, 2003, Webb v. United States , 540 U.S. 1065, 124 S.Ct. 847, 157 L.Ed.2d 727 (2003), and Meadows's petition on November 9, 2009. Meadows v. United States , 558 U.S. 1018, 130 S.Ct. 569, 175 L.Ed.2d 394 (2009). Later, both Defendants filed first Section 2255 petitions, which were denied by this Court. Mot. Vacate, ECF No. 74, Webb ; Electronic Endorsement Dismissing Pet. Vacate, ECF No. 74, Webb ; Mot. Vacate, ECF No. 66, Meadows ; Electronic Order, ECF No. 67, Meadows .

B. Ensuing Legal Developments

Years after the Defendants' convictions became final, the Supreme Court held in Johnson II that "imposing an increased sentence under the residual clause of the [ACCA] violate[d] the Constitution's guarantee of due process." 135 S.Ct. at 2563. Soon after, the Supreme Court confirmed in Welch that, as applied to the ACCA, Johnson II announced a "new rule" of constitutional law that was substantive and, thus, retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review, under the framework put forth in Teague v. Lane , 489 U.S. 288, 109 S.Ct. 1060, 103 L.Ed.2d 334 (1989). Welch , 136 S.Ct. at 1264–65.

C. The Defendants' Current Section 2255 Petitions

Following Johnson II and Welch , the Defendants filed second or successive Section 2255 petitions on June 14, 2016,(Webb), and on June 19, 2016, (Meadows).2 Mot. Vacate, ECF No. 93, Webb ; Mot. Vacate, ECF No. 101, Meadows . In these petitions, both Defendants argue that, because the Supreme Court held the residual clause of the ACCA unconstitutional, they no longer meet the threshold number of convictions for armed career criminal designation. Mot. Vacate 6, Webb ; Mot. Vacate 2-3, Meadows . Specifically, the Defendants argue that some or all of their predicate offenses no longer qualify as violent felonies under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B) because they are not within the scope of the remaining clauses—the force clause and the enumerated offenses of burglary, arson, and extortion. Mot. Vacate 6, Webb ; Mot. Vacate 2-3, Meadows . Were the Defendants to prevail based on these arguments, they would be entitled to relief under Section 2255 for serving sentences "imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

Webb's particular argument is that neither Massachusetts ABDW nor larceny from a person qualify as violent felonies after Johnson II . Mot. Vacate 6, Webb . The government concedes that larceny from a person is not a violent felony, waiving this argument. Government's Resp. Def.'s Pet. 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ("Gov't Resp."), ECF No. 99, Webb . The government also does not dispute Webb's contention that one of his predicate drug offenses has since been vacated. Id. It follows that whether Webb is below the threshold number of required violent felonies or serious drug offenses for armed career criminal designation lives or dies based on his Massachusetts ABDW argument.

As for Meadows, he argues that none of his three predicate convictions qualify as violent felonies. Mot. Vacate 3, 5, 9, Meadows . If Meadows could prove that any of his three predicate convictions (Massachusetts arson, ABDW, or armed robbery while masked) is not a violent felony, then he would fall below the threshold number of violent felonies required for his armed career criminal designation.


This Court must first confront a procedural issue the government raised in its briefs opposing the Defendants' Section 2255 petitions. The government argues, and the Defendants do not dispute, that the Defendants procedurally defaulted by not preserving their claims contesting the constitutionality of the residual clause of the ACCA at trial and on direct appeal. Gov't Resp. 4, Webb ; Government's Resp. Def's Pet. 28 U.S.C. § 2255 3 ("Gov't Resp."), ECF No. 107, Meadows . A procedural default prohibits relief under Section 2255 unless the defendant can show that 1) he had both "cause for having procedurally defaulted his claim" and that the alleged error resulted in "actual prejudice," Bucci v. United States , 662 F.3d 18, 29 (1st Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted), or 2) that the challenged constitutional error "has probably resulted in the conviction of one who is actually innocent," Bousley v. United States , 523 U.S. 614, 630, 118 S.Ct. 1604, 140 L.Ed.2d 828 (1998) (citation omitted).

The Court proceeds to analyze whether the Defendants have met the cause and prejudice prongs that would excuse them from procedural default.3

A. Cause

Without giving the term "precise content," the Supreme Court developed a "cause" limitation on habeas relief guided by the "notion that, absent exceptional circumstances, a defendant is bound by the tactical decisions of competent counsel," and by issues of comity. Reed v. Ross , 468 U.S. 1, 13, 104 S.Ct. 2901, 82 L.Ed.2d 1 (1984). In guiding the concept's application, the Supreme Court indicated early on that "futility of presenting an objection to the state courts cannot alone constitute cause for a failure to object at trial." Engle v. Isaac , 456 U.S. 107, 130, 102 S.Ct. 1558, 71 L.Ed.2d 783 (1982) ("If a defendant perceives a constitutional claim and believes it may find favor in the federal courts, he may not bypass the state courts simply because he thinks they will be unsympathetic to the claim.") In Engle , the Supreme Court also concluded that where a Supreme Court decision preceding the defendant's trial "laid the basis for [the defendant's] constitutional claim," leading to litigation in "numerous" courts that agreed with the claimants in the years before the defendant's trial, the defendant could not show "cause" to support habeas relief. Id. at 131–33, 102 S.Ct. 1558. Two years later, in Reed , the Supreme Court built on Engle , laying out some of the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
16 cases
  • Bennett v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
    • July 5, 2017
    ...undercuts" the Fifth Circuit's earlier holding that " ‘use’ of force encompasses only intentional conduct"); United States v. Webb , 217 F.Supp.3d 381 (D. Mass. 2016) ; but cf. Baptiste v. Att'y Gen. , 841 F.3d 601, 606-07, 607 n.5 (3d Cir. 2016) (declining to "examine to what extent the re......
  • Commonwealth v. Ashford
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • December 16, 2020
    ...July 6, 2016). But see United States v. McGregor, 229 F. Supp. 3d 77, 79 (D. Mass. 2017) (adopting analysis of United States v. Webb, 217 F. Supp. 3d 381, 391-397 [D. Mass. 2016], and holding that, after Voisine, assault and battery by means of dangerous weapon is categorically violent for ......
  • United States v. O'Shea
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts
    • June 22, 2017
    ...States v. Lattanzio, 232 F.Supp.3d 220, 223–24, 2017 WL 519241, at *2 (D. Mass. Feb. 8, 2017) (Ponsor, D.J.); United States v. Webb, 217 F.Supp.3d 381, 388 (D. Mass. 2016) (Young, D.J.).Moreover, in Johnson II, the Supreme Court noted its own "repeated attempts and repeated failures" since ......
  • United States v. Baez-Martinez
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Puerto Rico
    • June 29, 2017
    ...of domestic violence" under § 922(g). Multiple courts have extended this holding to the ACCA context. See, e.g., United States v. Webb, 217 F.Supp.3d 381, 397 (D. Mass. 2016). The First Circuit is currently considering the issue in United States v. Bennett, CA No. 16–2039 (1st Cir. filed Au......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT