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Sampson v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

February 20, 2018

DANNELL L. SAMPSON, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pro se petitioner Dannell L. Sampson, a federal prisoner incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary McCreary in Kentucky, seeks relief from his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. He contends that he should not have been convicted of robbery under the Hobbs Act or using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. He argues that he did not commit Hobbs Act robbery because he robbed a local store, so his robbery did not affect interstate commerce in light of United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995), and United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 (2000). As for his conviction for using firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, Sampson argues that his Hobbs Act robbery should no longer count as a crime of violence in light of Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016) and Samuel Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015).

         The matter is before the court for preliminary review under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings for the United States District Courts. Under Rule 4, Sampson's Section 2255 motion is addressed to me as the judge who sentenced him, and I must dismiss his motion if “it plainly appears from the motion, any attached exhibits, and the record of prior proceedings that [Sampson] is not entitled to relief.” Sampson's motion and the record from his criminal proceeding plainly show that Sampson is not entitled to relief, so I will deny his motion and close the case.

         BACKGROUND

         I draw the following facts from Sampson's motion, Dkt. 1, and the docket of his criminal proceeding, United States v. Sampson, No. 16-cr-93 (W.D. Wis. filed Nov. 16, 2017).

         In 2016, Sampson and his co-defendants robbed an AT&T retail store in Beloit, Wisconsin. One of the co-defendants brandished a semiautomatic handgun. Sampson's co-defendant threatened to kill the store employees, and Sampson restrained them with zip ties. The loss suffered by the victim store was $36, 137, including 71 cellular phones and other electronic devices. The robbery also involved threats of violence and the restraint of victims.

         In 2017, he pleaded guilty to one count of interference with commerce by threats or violence, 18 U.S.C. § 1951 (Hobbs Act robbery) and to one count of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). I sentenced him to 51 months for the first count and 60 months for the second, to be served consecutively.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Hobbs Act robbery

         Sampson contends that because he robbed a local retail store, his robbery had an insufficient effect on interstate commerce. Hobbs Act robbery has two elements: “a robbery and an effect on interstate commerce.” United States v. Carr, 652 F.3d 811, 812 (7th Cir. 2011). Sampson does not deny that he robbed the AT&T store, so the only question is whether the robbery affected interstate commerce.

         The Hobbs Act defines the term “commerce” this way:

The term “commerce” means commerce within the District of Columbia, or any Territory or Possession of the United States; all commerce between any point in a State, Territory, Possession, or the District of Columbia and any point outside thereof; all commerce between points within the same State through any place outside such State; and all other commerce over which the United States has jurisdiction.”

28 U.S.C. § 1951(b)(3). This language is “unmistakably broad. It reaches any obstruction, delay, or other effect on commerce, even if small.” Taylor v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2074, 2079 (2016). “[T]he law of this circuit requires the government to show only that the charged crime had a ‘de minimis' or slight effect on interstate commerce, ” and robbing a local retail store has been recognized as a sufficient effect on interstate commerce. United States v. Carr, 652 F.3d 811, 813-14 (7th Cir. 2011). As the Seventh Circuit has explained,

An act of violence against even one business, like the convenience store in this case, could conceivably deter economic activity and thus harm national commerce. The economic harm would not necessarily depend upon the amount of money with which any particular defendant absconds. If retail stores, in the aggregate, have a substantial effect on commerce (which they undoubtedly do), then the ...

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