Spencer v. United States, No. 10-10676 (11th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Defendant was convicted for distributing crack cocaine and was sentenced as a career offender. Defendant argued that his prior Florida conviction for third degree abuse of a minor did not require intent to cause physical injury or even a reasonable likelihood of physical injury and, therefore, that conviction did not satisfy the federal crime-of-violence definition. Defendant unsuccessfully raised this issue at both sentencing and on direct appeal but the court held that he could use a timely-filed first motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to pursue the same issue when an intervening case from the Supreme Court validated his argument and applied retroactively. The court concluded that, as a result of the intervening Supreme Court cases of Begay v. United States and Sykes v. United States, the record did not permit the conclusion that defendant's Florida conviction for third degree felony child abuse was a crime of violence. The court concluded that categorizing defendant as a career offender amounted to a violation of the laws of the United States in a way that was a fundamental defect that inherently resulted in a complete miscarriage of justice and presented exceptional circumstances where the need for the remedy afforded by the writ of habeas corpus was apparent. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded with instructions to resentence defendant.
The court issued a Revised version of this opinion on March 7, 2014.