Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, May 27, 2016

Griffin: Denial of Second or Successive 2255 application for career offender sentenced under mandatory guidelines

In In Re: Marvin Griffin, No. 16-12012-J (May 25, 2016), the Court denied a second or successive application for post-Johnson § 2255 relief, to an inmate sentenced pre-Booker when the Federal Sentencing Guidelines were mandatory. Citing its earlier decision in Matchett, the Court held that Johnson applied to ACCA enhancements, not to the Sentencing Guidelines – whether mandatory or advisory. The Guidelines “are directives to judges for their guidance in sentence convicted criminals [and] Due Process does not mandate notice of where, within the statutory range, the guidelines will fall.” Further, unlike an ACCA error, an error in calculating a defendant’s guidelines range does not alter the statutory sentencing range set by Congress, and would not produce a sentence that exceeds the statutory maximum. A district court could still impose the same sentence as before. Turning to Griffin’s reliance on Descamps, the Court held that “to open the successive § 2255 door, the rule must be both new and a rule of constitutional law. Descamps is a rule of statutory interpretation, not constitutional law.” Accordingly, Griffin failed to present a prima facie case under § 2266(h)(2) with regard to his career offender guideline sentence.