Archive | 3582(c)(2)

Friday, June 8th, 2018

New Supreme Court Opinions on 3582(c)

Along with some decision about cake, the Supreme Court issued two opinions this week concerning the scope of 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2)’s requirement that, to be eligible for a sentencing reduction, the defendant’s sentence must have been “based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 994(o).”

In Koons v. United States, the Court issued a short, unanimous opinion holding that a sentence is not “based on” the Guidelines where the defendant was originally sentenced below the mandatory minimum for providing substantial assistance to the government. When the government so moves, see U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1, the district court is authorized to “impose a sentence below” the statutory minimum “so as to reflect a defendant’s substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another person who has committed an offense.” 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e). The Court held that, under …

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Friday, February 23rd, 2018

New Opinion on When a § 3582(c) Guidelines Recalculation Leaves a Defendant’s Sentencing Range Unchanged

Yesterday, the Second Circuit held that a Guidelines recalculation pursuant to a motion to reduce a sentence must account for Guidelines’ grouping rules that, when applied, leave the defendant’s amended Guidelines range unchanged. See United States v. Carosella, No. 17-896 (2d Cir. 2018) (per curiam) (Walker, Lynch, Chin), opinion available here. Unfortunately, this holding  may affect a number of cases where a defendant seeks a sentencing reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) in light of the 2014 changes to the Guidelines’ sentencing levels for drug offenses.

Mr. Carosella was convicted and sentenced in 2011 to three concurrent, 120-month terms of imprisonment for (1) conspiracy to distribute cocaine base and heroin, (2) conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and (3) conspiracy to burglarize pharmacies. In 2016, he moved to reduce his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c), because Amendment 782 to the Guidelines lowered the base offense level for …

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Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Recent Cert. Grants

The Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in three criminal cases, the availability of sentencing reductions pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) when a Guidelines sentencing range is retroactively lowered:

Hughes v. United States, No. 17-155
Question Presented: Whether, as a four-justice plurality in Freeman v. United States concluded, a defendant who enters into a Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement is generally eligible for a sentence reduction if there is a later, retroactive amendment to the relevant Sentencing Guidelines range.

Cert. papers and opinion below available here:

Hughes v. United States

Koons v. United States, No. 17-1756
Question Presented: Whether a defendant who is subject to a statutory mandatory minimum sentence, but who substantially assisted the government and received a sentence below the mandatory minimum pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e), is eligible for a further sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), when the Sentencing …


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Categories: 3582(c)(2), interlocutory

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Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Second Circuit Vacates Denial of Sentence Reduction

United States v. Melendez, No. 16-1019 (2d Cir. Feb. 16, 2007) (Leval, Calabresi, Carney).

In this summary order, the Circuit vacated the denial of a motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). The Court ruled that the district court (Judge Hurley) clearly erred in deciding that the defendant (a client of Federal Defenders) was legally ineligible for a sentence reduction. Judge Hurley ruled that the defendant was ineligible because, at the original sentencing, conducted by Judge Platt, the court had found him responsible for 44.8 kilograms of heroin, a quantity that precluded him from receiving a sentence reduction. The Circuit held, however, that Judge Platt never adopted the PSR’s finding of 44.8 kilograms or otherwise made a specific quantity finding. The court merely said that the PSR’s range was “accurately computed,” which would have been true if the quantity was anywhere above 10 kilograms. Thus, the …


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Categories: 3582(c)(2), drug quantity, guideline

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Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Good News and Bad News for a Defendant Sentenced under a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) Plea Agreement Who Subsequently Moved for a Sentence Reduction under 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(2)

In United States v. Jamahl Leonard, No. 15-2232-cr (Dec. 14,  2016) (Circuit Judges: Raggi, Chin, Droney), the Circuit, in a published opinion, vacates a district court’s ruling that the defendant is ineligible for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and remands for further proceedings. But it also holds that the defendant cannot receive a sentence reduction to the extent he was seeking.

At the initial sentencing, the district court determined that the Guidelines range was 121 to 151 months. But the court sentenced Leonard under a plea agreement pursuant to  Fed.R.Crim.P.11(c)(1)(C) using an agreed-upon range of 97 to 121 months. Under Rule 11(c)(1)(C), the parties agree to a particular sentencing range (Fed.R.Crim.P.11(c)(1)(C)), but if the sentencing court rejects the agreement, it must “give the defendant an opportunity to withdraw the plea.” Fed.R.Crim.P.11(c)(5)(B).  Applying the range of the 11(c)(1)(C) agreement, the district court imposed a sentence of 114 …


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Categories: 3582(c)(2), harmless error

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Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Sooner or Later, the Career Offender Guideline Will Get You

In United States v. Anthony Lewis, Docket Nos. 15-3245-cr (L) & 15-3307-cr (CON), an unpublished summary order, the Court (Calabresi, Livingston & Rakoff (by designation)) rejected two appeals by Mr. Lewis from two denials of two § 3582(c)(2) motions for a reduced sentence based on two retroactively applicable Guideline amendments, one in 2010 and the other in 2014. The case is of interest principally for demonstrating the see-saw application of the Career Offender Guideline vis-a-via the Drug Guideline (§ 2D1.1) in the context of § 3582(c)(2) motions.

Mr. Lewis was originally sentenced in 2004. Under the drug table in § 2D1.1, his total offense level (based on distributing 1.5 KG or more of cocaine base) was 37, and at Criminal History Category VI, the range was 360 months to life. He also qualified as a Career Offender under § 4B1.1, but that determination resulted in a total offense …


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Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Defendant Not Eligible for Second § 3852(c)(2) Reduction when New Amendment Does Not Lower the Sentencing Range Determined by Prior Amendment

In United States v. Leroy Derry, Docket No. 15-1829-cr, which was issued yesterday but amended today, the Circuit (by Judge Parker, joined by Judges Pooler and Livingston) ruled as a matter of statutory interpretation that Derry was ineligible for a second sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) because the new 2015 amendment (under which he was seeking the second reduction) did not lower the range determined by a prior Guideline amendment in 2011, under which Derry received a lower sentence (though not to the bottom of the amended range), even if this range was lower than the range employed at the original sentencing in 1999.

Here are the essential facts. Derry was convicted in 1998 of multiple offenses, including drug trafficking (crack), racketeering, and murder. When calculating the applicable sentencing range, the Probation Office determined that there were at least three “groups.” The group including the drug trafficking …

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Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Remand for resentencing to consider the difference between substantive conspiracy liability and the scope of relevant conduct for guidelines purposes; Remand for resentencing under § 3582(c)(2)

The Second Circuit issued four summary orders in criminal cases today.

United States v. Rigo, 15-1914, remanded the case for resentencing. The Second Circuit held that the district court committed plain error in calculating the loss amount for the purposes of determining the guideline range. The Circuit explained that “the scope of conduct for which a defendant can be held accountable under the sentencing guidelines is significantly narrower than the conduct embraced by the law of conspiracy.” Order at 2. The “emphasis in substantive conspiracy liability is the scope of the entire conspiracy” but the guidelines are concerned with “the scope of the individual defendant’s undertaking.” Id. (emphasis in original). In other words, even if the acts of co-conspirators were foreseeable to the defendant, they do not constitute relevant conduct for guidelines purposes if they were “not within the scope of the defendant’s agreement.” Id. at 3. …


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Categories: 3582(c)(2), conspiracy, relevant conduct, Rule 11, sentencing findings

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Thursday, May 19th, 2016

District court’s decision denying a motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C.§ 3582(c)(2) is vacated — explanation was insufficient to permit meaningful appellate review

United States v. Mazza, No.15-2394-cr  (2d Cir. May 19, 2016)
(summary order) (Jacobs, Parker, and Raggi).

Congratulations to the Federal Defenders in New Haven for obtaining a vacatur and remand of a district judge’s refusal to grant a defendant’s motion for a reduction of sentence under 18 U.S.C.  § 3582(c)(2).  In this summary order, the Circuit concluded that the district judge’s explanation for the summary denial of the motion was not sufficient for meaningful appellate  review, even under an abuse- of-discretion standard.

Mazza  had been convicted and sentenced in 2011 for a marijuana conspiracy:  for conspiring to manufacture and possess with intent to distribute over 1000 marijuana plants. The district court sentenced Mazza to 168 months in prison, which was the top of the Sentencing Guidelines range (of 135-168 months) as calculated at the 2011 sentencing.

But under a subsequent retroactive amendment to the Guidelines  — Amendment 782,  reducing …

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Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Circuit affirms denial of 18 U.S.C. 3582 sentence reduction

In United States v. Jimenez, 15-1624, the Circuit affirmed the District Court’s denial of a reduction in sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3582.  The Circuit held that when the District Court stated that a lower sentence was “foreclose[d]” by the defendant’s participation in four murders, it meant that the original sentence was the minimum sentence necessary in light of Jimenez’s conduct and that the facts of the case did not provide a basis for granting a sentence reduction.…


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Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Between the Cracks

United States v. Rivera, No. 10-1199 (2d Cir. October 21, 2011) (Katzmann, Chin, CJJ, Gleeson, DJ)

This interesting decision answers an unanswered question in the circuit’s jurisprudence on § 3582(c)(2) motions. The outcome is favorable for Mr. Rivera, but will likely not last. An amended version of U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10 goes into effect on November 1, 2011, that is, at least arguably, intended to render defendants in his situation ineligible for a sentence reduction.

Background

Convicted by a jury, Rivera faced a base offense level of 38 for trafficking in more than 1.5 kilograms of crack cocaine. There were no adjustments, so 38 was also his total offense level. He was in criminal history category IV, so his range would have been 324 to 415 months. But, he was a career offender. The highest offense level in the career offender table is 37, so the district court correctly “borrowed” the …


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