Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rozier: Johnson does not entitle 2255 movant to relief

In Rozier v. U.S., No. 11-13557 (Nov. 21, 2012) (2-1), the Court held that a movant pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 was not entitled to relief from his sentence based on the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. U.S., 130 S.Ct. 1265 (2010).

In 2001, Rozier was sentenced as a career offender. His career offender status was based in part on a prior conviction for battery on a police officer in violation of Fla. Stat. § 784.07(2)(b). Years after his sentence was affirmed on appeal, the Supreme Court decided Johnson, in which it held that, under the “elements clause” of the career offender guideline, a Florida felony battery did not qualify as a predicate offense. Johnson did not reach whether the offense qualified under the Guideline’s “residual clause.”

The Court recognized that Johnson is retroactively applicable. However, because Johnson did not reach whether a Florida battery qualified as a predicate offense under the “residual clause” of the Guideline, it was not a “change in controlling law” that would entitle Rozier to relief on a § 2255 claim. In its prior decision in Rozier’s appeal, the Eleventh Circuit had relied on the residual clause in affirming the sentence. Because there was no intervening decision contrary to its prior ruling, the Eleventh Circuit was bound by its earlier ruling.

[Dissenting, Judge Hill stated: “I reluctantly conclude that our court is determined to deny relief to every confined habeas petitioner whose sentence has been unlawfully enhanced under either the career offender guideline or the armed career criminal statute.”]