United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER STAYING CASE
Jennifer A. Dorsey, United States District Judge.
On December 9, 2016, petitioner Terry Williams filed a motion
to vacate his 65-month sentence for being a felon in
possession of a firearm, arguing that his sentence was
illegally enhanced under USSG §§ 4B1.2(a) and 2K2.1
in light of the United States Supreme Court's decision in
Johnson v. United States,  in which the Court held that
the ACCA's similarly worded residual clause is
unconstitutionally vague. Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section
2255 Cases in the United States District Court directs me to
promptly examine § 2255 motions and, unless it plainly
appears that the movant is not entitled to relief, direct the
government to file a response.
2016, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in
Beckles v. United States, Case Number 15-8544, to
decide, in relevant part, whether Johnson requires
invalidation of USSG § 4B1.2(a)(2)'s residual clause
and, if so, whether this applies retroactively to
collateral-review cases challenging sentences enhanced under
that provision. On November 28, 2016, the Court heard oral
argument in Beckles and the case was submitted for
review. Because Beckles is under submission and
potentially dispositive of petitioner's motion to vacate,
I decline to direct the government to file a response at this
time and I stay all proceedings in this case pending the
Supreme Court's decision in Beckles.
district court has the inherent power to stay cases to
control its docket and promote the efficient use of judicial
resources. When determining whether to stay a case
pending the resolution of another case, I must consider (1)
the possible damage that may result from a stay, (2) any
“hardship or inequity” that a party may suffer if
required to go forward, and (3) “the orderly course of
justice measured in terms of the simplifying or complicating
of issues, proof, and questions of law” that a stay
will engender. On balance, I find that these factors
favor a stay here.
motion hinges on Johnson's retroactive
application to the residual clause of § 4B1.2(a)(2). The
Beckles decision is thus almost certain to determine
whether petitioner has a cognizable claim under § 2255.
I have no less than ten cases in which defendants have filed
§ 2255 motions seeking to challenge their §
4B1.2(a)(2)-enhanced sentences based on Johnson.
Staying this case pending the Supreme Court's decision in
Beckles will permit the parties to present arguments
and evidence in the context of complete and resolved
precedent, and it will allow me to evaluate petitioner's
claim in light of this imminently anticipated legal
authority. A stay pending the decision in Beckles
will thus simplify the proceedings and promote the efficient
use of the parties' and the court's limited
a briefing schedule in this case before the Supreme Court
decides the issues presented in Beckles could also
impose a hardship on both parties. A stay will prevent
unnecessary and premature briefing on these issues before the
parties have the benefit of the Supreme Court's legal
analysis and decision.
only potential prejudice that may result from a stay is that
both parties will have to wait longer for resolution of this
case. But a delay would also result from the new briefing
that would very likely be needed after the Supreme Court
issues its decision in Beckles. So a stay pending
the decision will not necessarily lengthen the life of this
case, and any possible damage that a stay may cause is
stay pending the decision will also not be indefinite. The
length of this stay is tied to the Supreme Court's
issuance of its decision in Beckles, a case that has
already been argued and submitted and will be decided this
term. Once the decision is issued, either party may move to
lift the stay.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this case is STAYED until the
Supreme Court issues a decision in Beckles v. United
States, Case Number 15-8544. Once the decision issues,
either party may move to lift the stay.
Johnson v. United States, 135
S.Ct. 2551 ...