« "Full Restitution for Child Pornography Victims: The Supreme Court's Paroline Decision and the Need for a Congressional Response" | Main | US Sentencing Commission promulgates "Johnson fix" guideline amendment and proposes many other notable amendments »
January 8, 2016
Might SCOTUS take up Johnson retroactivity ASAP via Texas case appealed from district court?
Hard-core federal sentencing fans (and/or obsessive readers of this blog) know that lower federal courts have been splitting since the summer over the reroactive application of Supreme Court's big Johnson Armed Career Criminal Act ruling declaring the residual clause of ACCA void for vagueness. As noted in this prior post, some prisoners have been urging SCOTUS to take up this issue ASAP via an original habeas petition, but now the US Solicitor General (which has been supportive of Johnson retroactivity) has this new SCOTUS filing suggesting that the Supreme Court might consider taking up the issue ASAP via a case from Texas being appealed directly from the district court's denial of relied.
This new SCOTUSblog posting by Lyle Denniston provide some broader context on all the substantive and procedural issues raised by post-Johnson litigation; it notes that the Justices are slated to consider this case from Texas, Harrimon v US, during their conference today. Here is the basic backstory of this particular case:
When Harrimon’s case was in lower courts, his sentence for illegal possession of a gun by a convicted felon was originally set at ninety-six months — eight years — but then was raised to fifteen years and eight months (188 months) by applying the enhancement provision of the residual clause. After the Johnson decision emerged, Harrimon began a federal habeas challenge to the longer sentence, seeking to rely upon that decision on the premise that it applied retroactively.
While his case was still pending in a trial court, the Fifth Circuit in a separate case ruled that theJohnson decision would not apply retroactively to cases pending on post-conviction review, such as federal habeas challenges. The district court judge rejected Harrimon’s plea, and his lawyers then moved on to the Fifth Circuit. However, instead of waiting for that court to decide his appeal, his lawyers filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review his challenge prior to a decision by the appeals court.
I would love to see SCOTUS take up the Johnson retroactivity issue ASAP for a variety of substantive and procedural reasons. And I sincerely hope that the Justices feel some significant obligation to help lower federal courts properly clean up the uncertain mess that SCOTUS itself made through its remarkable Johnson vagueness ruling.
A few prior related posts:
- SCOTUS finds, per Justice Scalia, that ACCA residual clause is unconstitutionally vague
- A (way-too-quick) Top 5 list of thoughts/reactions to the votes and opinions Johnson
- How many federal prisoners have "strong Johnson claims" (and how many lawyers will help figure this out)?
- "The Circuit Split on Johnson Retroactivity"
- Should SCOTUS deal with Johnson retroactivity through an original habeas petition?
- Updating the bubbling lower-court vagueness mess six months after Johnson
January 8, 2016 at 12:18 PM | Permalink