Published on: Monday, February 22, 2021

The Supreme Court on Monday issued its first regularly scheduled  order list since late January and one of the petitions granted focuses on the application of the Armed Career Criminal Act yet again.

In Wooden v. United States, No. 20-5279, the Supreme Court will weigh in once again on the interpretation of the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. 924(e), a federal law that requires enhanced, mandatory minimum 15-year term of imprisonment for people convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. 922(g), who have three prior state or federal convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses.

The case arose in 1997, when William Wooden broke into a mini-storage facility in Georgia and stole from 10 different units, leading to his guilty pleas on 10 counts of burglary. The question before the Supreme Court is whether Wooden committed his crimes on different occasions, which under the ACCA would subject him to a mandatory enhancement of 15 years for his conviction for possession of a gun by someone previously convicted of a felony.

Wooden filed his initial high court petition last summer pro se. Wooden's counseled reply brief argues that “offenses are not committed on different ‘occasions’ just because they occur sequentially” – and that Wooden should have faced a sentence of only 21 to 26 months and would have been released by 2016 not 2028. “One night in a storage facility does not an ‘Armed Career Criminal’ make.”

By granting review, the justices can settle a split in the appeals courts over how to decide when two crimes are “committed on occasions different from one another” under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act.