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Slizewski v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

August 24, 2017

LANCE SLIZEWSKI, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pro se petitioner Lance Slizewski is a federal prisoner incarcerated at the Pekin Federal Correctional Institution in Illinois. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to one count of felon in possession of a firearm, and I sentenced him to 180 months in prison. United States v. Slizewski, No. 14-cr-87, Dkt. 49 (W.D. Wis. June 25, 2015).

         Slizewski has filed a motion for postconviction relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that, under Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), he no longer meets the definition of “armed career criminal, ” which resulted in a mandatory minimum sentence. Dkt. 1. After reviewing his motion under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings for the United States District Courts, I conclude that although the Mathis line of cases affects the analysis of Sliziewski's criminal history, he still meets the definition of armed career criminal.

         BACKGOUND

         In April 2015, Slizewski pleaded guilty to one count of felon in possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). I sentenced him in June 2015.

         I concluded that Slizewski was subject to a mandatory minimum of 15-year sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), because he had at least three predicate convictions. At the time, I concluded that he had five: “(1) Burglary - Building or Dwelling, Attempt, Vilas County Circuit Court, Case No. 02CF55; (2) Battery, Habitual Criminality, Vilas County Case No. 02CF116; (3) Battery by Prisoners, Dane County Circuit Court, Case No. 06CF2452; (4) Substantial Battery-Intend Bodily Harm, Dane County Circuit Court, Case No. 08CF1980; and (5) Strangulation and Suffocation, Dane County Circuit Court, Case No. 10CF348.” Slizewski, No. 14-cr-87, Dkt. 47, at 4.

         ANALYSIS

         To prevail, Slizewski must show that his “sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). Here, Slizewski relies on Mathis, 136 S.Ct. 2243. But even after Mathis, Slizewski still has at least three qualifying convictions under § 924(e).

         Under the ACCA, a criminal defendant is an armed career criminal if he has at least three previous convictions that qualify as predicate offenses. § 924(e)(1). Either a “violent felony” or a “serious drug offense” can qualify as a predicate offense. Id. Slizewski's case turns on whether he had at least three violent felonies. The ACCA defines the term “violent felony” as

any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, or any act of juvenile delinquency involving the use or carrying of a firearm, knife, or destructive device that would be punishable by imprisonment for such term if committed by an adult, that-
(i) has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another; or
(ii) is burglary, arson, or extortion, involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another;

§ 924(e)(2)(B). Both subsections are relevant here because Slizewski had burglary and battery convictions. The residual clause, which would include crimes that pose “a serious potential risk of physical injury to another, ” does not apply because it has been held unconstitutional. Samuel Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). The residual clause was never at issue in Slizewski's case.

         The next task is to determine whether Slizewski prior offenses qualify as predicate offenses under the ACCA. Under Taylor v. United States, and its successors, Descamps v. United States and Mathis, a district court must first apply the categorical approach when enhancing sentences under § 924(e) and compare elements of each prior offense with elements of a generic offense. 495 U.S. 575, 602 (1990); 133 S.Ct. 2276, 2281 (2013); 136 S.Ct. at 2248. The elements of the offenses govern, and ...


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