Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Santos: 2255 Movant Could Not Satisfy Burden Under Beeman to Show Reliance on Residual Clause

In Santos v. United States, No. 17-14291 (Marcus, William Pryor, Hull), the Court affirmed the denial of a 2255 motion challenging an ACCA enhancement in light of Johnson.

The Court held that the movant could not meet his burden to establish that the sentencing judge relied solely on the residual clause, as required by Beeman.  The ACCA enhancement had been based in part on a prior Florida battery conviction.  However, the sentencing record was silent as to which definitional clause was used, and the case law at the time of sentencing would have allowed the judge to impose the enhancement under either the residual clause and the elements clause.  Finally, although the district court denied the motion before Beeman was decided, the Court determined that a remand would be futile.  Unlike the Eleventh Circuit’s earlier decision in Pickett, the district court here had already made a finding that the record was unclear as to which clause had been used, and the district court handling the 2255 motion was not the original sentencing judge.  Thus, the Court did not decide whether the “touch or strike” aspect of Florida battery was divisible, and it stated that this question remains an open one.