Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Nos. 1:06-cr-00078-1; 1:12-cv-00362—Harry S. Mattice, Jr., District Judge.
Decided and Filed: April 24, 2020
Before: SUHRHEINRICH, BUSH, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.
MURPHY, Circuit Judge. The Armed Career Criminal Act increases the sentence for
felons who possess firearms from a 10-year maximum to a 15-year minimum if the defendant
has three prior convictions that qualify as “violent felonies.” 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2), (e). The Act
defines “violent felony” to include “burglary.” Id. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii). The Supreme Court has
long used a “categorical approach” to determine whether a state burglary conviction counts as a
conviction for “burglary” under the Act—an approach some Justices have come to recognize is
“difficult to apply.” Quarles v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 1872, 1881 (2019) (Thomas, J.,
concurring); cf. United States v. Burris, 912 F.3d 386, 390 (6th Cir. 2019) (en banc) (principal
op.). This case shows how the difficulties answering this esoteric legal question can affect real
people’s lives. In 2007 a jury convicted David Brown of being a felon in possession of a firearm
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). United States v. Brown, 443 F. App’x 956, 958 (6th
Cir. 2011). At that time our caselaw treated Brown’s three Tennessee aggravated-burglary
convictions as violent felonies, so we upheld his 180-month sentence under the Act. Id. at 959–
60. Years later the parties agreed that changes to our caselaw showed that Brown’s burglary
convictions did not, in fact, qualify as violent felonies. The district court thus granted Brown
relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. He was resentenced and released from prison. Since his release,
however, the Supreme Court has intervened and changed our caselaw yet again. While Brown
says that his convictions still do not qualify as violent felonies, we disagree. So we must reverse
the district court’s decision granting Brown relief under § 2255 and remand for the court to
reinstate his original sentence.