Ezell v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 01-23-2015
  • Case #: 14-71696
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Tallman for the Court; Circuit Judges McKeown and Owens
  • Full Text Opinion

In order to establish a prima facie case, the successive 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition must announce a new rule of constitutional law.

Following Terry Ezell’s conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, the district court sentenced him under the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”). Attempting to abrogate his sentence, Ezell exhausted his appeals, filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 petition, and moved for authorization to file a successive § 2255 petition after the first one was denied. However, the court denied authorization, and Ezell was unable to file a successive petition. Ezell appealed, arguing that his sentence should be abrogated based on the “new rule of constitutional law” decided in Descamps v. United States. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that although 28 U.S.C. § 2244(b)(3)(D) requires an appeal to grant or deny authorization to file a successive petition within 30 days of filing a motion, the time limit is hortatory, not mandatory, so the complex nature of Ezell’s § 2255 motion allows the panel to reach the merits of the case notwithstanding the fact that 30 days had passed since Ezell filed his motion. The panel also held that Ezell did not establish a prima facie case because his successive § 2255 petition did not “break new ground” or demonstrate a new rule of constitutional law. Since Descamps merely affirms the prior interpretation of ACCA and does not announce a new rule or meet the requirements of a constitutional case, the panel denied Ezell’s motion. DENIED.

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