Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Welch:Pre-1997 Florida Robberies Are "Violent Felonies"

In Welch v. United States, No. 14-15733 (May 6, 2020) (Rosenbaum, Tjoflat, Pauley (SDNY)), the Court affirmed the denial of a 2255 motion based on Johnson.

The Court concluded that the movant’s convictions remained “violent felonies” under the ACCA’s elements clause.  The movant argued that his pre-1997 Florida robbery did not satisfy the elements clause because it could be committed by snatching, and the Court’s decision in his direct appeal supported that argument.  The Court disagreed, finding the earlier discussion in his direct appeal to be dicta, and that subsequent circuit precedent in Fritts made clear that all Florida robberies qualified.   The Court also reiterated that Florida felony battery satisfied the elements clause under its en banc decision in Vail-Bailon.

Judge Rosenbam concurred, acknowledging that binding precedent required the result.  However, she wrote separately to argue that Fritts was wrongly decided because, in determining the least culpable act criminalized, it failed to look to the actual state of the law in Florida before 1997 in certain DCAs.