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United States v. Beckman

United States District Court, D. Alaska

February 28, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL LEE BECKMAN, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER DENYING AMENDED MOTION TO VACATE SENTENCE

RALPH R. BEISTLINE, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition filed by Petitioner Michael Lee Beckman. Beckman contends that "his sentence should be vacated and modified based on recent U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence."[1] Specifically, Beckman claims that Descamps v. United States , ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2276 (2013), supports his previous argument, made at sentencing, that his "1982 state conviction for Burglary in the Second Degree did not qualify as a predicate violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) because the Alaska burglary statutes exceed the scope of the generic definition of burglary' applicable under the ACCA."[2] Beckman also claims that according to Alleyne v. United States , ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013), the Sixth Amendment required that a jury, not a court, find the facts that led to his mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years under the ACCA.[3]

After careful consideration, and in light of the discussion below, the Court concludes that neither Descamps nor Alleyne applies to Beckman's sentencing. Thus, the Amended Motion to Vacate Sentence is DENIED.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a):

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States... or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law... may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

III. BACKGROUND

In April 2003, Beckman was indicted for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm and for Possession of Stolen Firearms.[4] He subsequently pleaded guilty to both counts in July 2003.[5] At sentencing, Beckman's presentence report stated that he should be sentenced under the ACCA, with a mandatory minimum of fifteen years, based on three state-court convictions: second-degree burglary in 1982, first-degree burglary in 1985, and first-degree robbery in 1994.[6]

On December 8, 2003, "[t]he sentencing court applied a modified categorical' analysis to the issue and found that the indictment and judgment of conviction were sufficient to support a finding that [Beckman's] burglary conviction was a crime of violence' under the ACCA and sentenced [him] to 15 years imprisonment."[7]

"On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence."[8] The Ninth Circuit panel held "that the court correctly counted Beckman's 1982 conviction as a predicate crime of violence.'"[9] The Ninth Circuit affirmed the court's application of the modified categorical approach and held that both the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit have made clear that a burglary conviction under a nongeneric statute, such as Alaska's second-degree burglary statute, may qualify as a violent felony for purposes of the ACCA if the charging documents, in combination with a signed plea agreement, guilty pleas, transcript of plea proceedings, or judgment, reflect that the defendant pled guilty to a crime that contains all the elements of generic burglary.[10] The panel specifically found that the indictment relating to Beckman's 1982 conviction, together with the judgment of conviction, made it clear that the second-degree burglary conviction satisfied the generic definition of burglary.[11]

IV. DISCUSSION

A. Descamps does not apply to Alaska's burglary statute.

Beckman argues that the law outlined in Decamps dictates that the application of the "modified categorical approach" in his case requires that he be resentenced.[12] However, the reasoning set out in Descamps applies only to "indivisible" ...


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