Ham v. Breckon, No. 20-6972 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2241. Petitioner claims that, pursuant to United States v. Wheeler, 886 F.3d 415 (4th Cir. 2018), the district court was permitted to address the merits of his petition.
The court declined to hold that the explanation in Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016), about how to determine whether parts of a statute are "elements or means" changed this circuit's substantive law applying the modified categorical approach to South Carolina third degree burglary. The court explained that, to the extent petitioner contends Mathis changed settled substantive Supreme Court law, Mathis itself made clear that it was not changing, but rather clarifying, the law. To the extent petitioner contends Mathis changed settled Fourth Circuit law, the court rejected such contentions. Furthermore, petitioner's arguments relying on three other circuit cases failed because these cases do not utilize a test like Wheeler. Therefore, petitioner cannot satisfy prong two of the Wheeler test.