United States v. Taylor, No. 19-7616 (4th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
In 2003, Taylor and a co-conspirator went to rob Taylor’s marijuana customer, Sylvester. The co-conspirator carried a semiautomatic pistol, which discharged during the attempt. Sylvester sustained a fatal gunshot wound. An indictment alleged Taylor conspired to commit Hobbs Act robbery, 18 U.S.C. 1951; attempted Hobbs Act robbery, 18 U.S.C. 1951; and used a firearm in furtherance of a “crime of violence,” 18 U.S.C. 924(c), citing as predicate crimes of violence the conspiracy and the attempted Hobbs Act robbery. Taylor pled guilty to the conspiracy and section 924(c) counts and was sentenced to 240 months’ incarceration for the conspiracy and 120 consecutive months for the 924(c) conviction.
Taylor’s first motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255 was denied. Taylor obtained permission to file a second section 2255 motion in light of the Supreme Court’s "Johnson" decision, which substantially narrowed the definition of “violent felony” in the Armed Career Criminal Act. In the meantime, the Fourth Circuit invalidated section 924(c)(3)(B), one of two clauses defining “crime of violence,” and held that conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery does not qualify as a “crime of violence” under either clause. The Supreme Court similarly invalidated section 924(c)(3)(B) as unconstitutionally vague.
The Fourth Circuit vacated Taylor’s 924(c) conviction. The elements of attempted Hobbs Act robbery do not invariably require “the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force,” so the offense does not qualify as a “crime of violence” under 924(c).