Supreme Court Voids Residuary Clause of ACCA in Landmark Decision
By Derek Gilna
In a landmark decision to, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down, voided, and set aside the residuary clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), while leaving the rest of ACCA intact. The impact of this cannot be overstated for those who received mandatory minimum sentence based upon the residuary clause.
Simply put, in Johnson v. U.S., 13-7120, the Supreme Court ruled that a district court as a part of the sentencing process cannot increase a sentence based upon the language of ACCA’s residuary clause; unfortunately, the court said, many district courts have classified as violent crimes offenses which did not rise to the level of violent acts, accepting the argument of prosecutors in almost every instance that they argued for an ACCA mandatory minimum sentence. I must emphasize the rest of ACCA has been left intact, so if you were sentenced under anything OTHER than the residuary clause, this decision does not assist you.
Since the residuary clause has been found to be unconstitutional, this means that relief cannot be denied to those whose appeals or habeas corpus claims are still pending. A strong argument exists for vacating the sentences of even those where appeals have been exhausted. However, the court has not stated that the decision is retroactive in its application, so these arguments must be made with caution. However, those who received sentences based upon the residuary clause finally have an argument that they can make that the courts will have to listen to. As stated by the Supreme Court, “imposing an increased sentence under ACCA’s residual clause violates due process.”
Derek Gilna, 113 McHenry #173,