Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dean: Denying SOS for 924(c) defendant with assault predicate

In In re: Sheldon Dean Christopher Watt, No 16-14675-J (July 21, 2016), the Court denied an application for leave to file a second or successive § 2255 application, filed by a defendant convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) who claimed that his predicate conviction for this offense was no longer valid, post-Johnson. The Court noted that § 924(c) has an elements clause. Watt’s prior conviction was for assault with intent to rob a Postmaster and in so doing putting the life of the person in jeopardy by use of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2114. It did not matter that Watt was charged with aiding and abetting because the acts of a principal become those of the aider and abettor. Further, the presentence investigation report, whose factual statements the district court adopted without objection, described how Watt pointed a firearm at the victim and made her lie on the floor while he fled. Thus, even if the residual clause of § 924(c) was void for vagueness, Watt’s predicate offense qualified as a “crime of violence.”