United States v. Lawless, No. 20-1173 (10th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
In 2011, defendant-appellant David Lawless detonated or attempted to detonate five homemade bombs in three separate public places. He subsequently pled guilty to one count of using a destructive device to commit a crime of violence and was sentenced to 20 years in prison pursuant to his plea agreement. In 2016, Lawless filed a motion for postconviction relief, arguing that in light of Johnson v. United States, 576 U.S. 591 (2015), arson no longer qualified as a section 924(c) crime of violence. The district court denied the motion on March 1, 2017, and he appealed. The Supreme Court invalidated section 924(c) for vagueness, and the Tenth Circuit held that arson was not a crime of violence under section 924(c)(3)(A) in United States v. Salas, 889 F.3d 681 (10th Cir. 2018). The Tenth Circuit granted the parties’ joint motion to vacate Lawless’s 924(c) conviction, to direct entry of a judgment of conviction for arson under 18 U.S.C. 844(i), and to remand to the district court for resentencing. The district court held a hearing and sentenced Lawless to 144 months in prison on the one count of arson, varying upward from the advisory guideline sentence of 60 months. Lawless again appealed his sentence as procedurally and substantively unreasonable, but finding no abuse of discretion in the sentence, the Tenth Circuit affirmed it.