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United States v. President

June 23, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
TERRENCE J. PRESIDENT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ellen Segal Huvelle United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is defendant's motion pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) to reduce his sentence based on an amendment to the United States Sentencing Guidelines. (Mot. to Reduce Sentence, Oct. 28, 2008 [dkt. #40].) For the reasons stated herein, that motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

On May 30, 2002, defendant pled guilty to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2) and one count of unlawful possession with intent to distribute more than 5 grams or more of cocaine base ("crack" cocaine), in violation of 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1) and (b)(b)(1)(B)(iii). Under the applicable Sentencing Guidelines, defendant had an offense level of 27, a criminal history category of IV, and a sentencing range of 100 to 125 months imprisonment.*fn1 On December 19, 2003, the Court sentenced defendant to 120 months on the gun count (the statutory maximum for the that offense) and 125 months on the drug count, to be served concurrently.

Effective November 1, 2007, the United States Sentencing Commission amended the Guidelines to provide for a two-level reduction in the base offense level for crack cocaine offenses. U.S.S.G. App. C, Amend. 706 (Supp. 2007). After this amendment was made retroactively applicable, see U.S.S.G. App. C, Amend. 713 (Supp. 2008), defendant filed the pending motion, asking the Court to reduce his sentence to 60 months imprisonment, the statutory minimum for the drug offense.

DISCUSSION

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), the Court is authorized to reduce a term of imprisonment imposed "in the case of a defendant who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission." 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) (emphasis added). The first step in a § 3582(c) proceeding is "to determine the prisoner's eligibility for a sentence modification and the extent of the reduction authorized," pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(b)(1). See Dillon v. United States, No. 09-6338, 2010 WL 2400109, *6 (U.S. June. 17, 2010). Here, it is undisputed that defendant is eligible for a sentence modification and that "'the amended guideline range that would have been applicable to the defendant' had the relevant amendment been in effect at the time of the initial sentencing" is 84-105 months. Id. (quoting § 1B1.10(b)(1)).

As for the extent of the reduction authorized, the Supreme Court's recent decision in Dillon makes clear that the Court is bound by Guideline § 1B1.10(b)(2), which provides that, unless the court originally imposed a sentence below the Guideline range, a court "may 'not reduce the term of imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) . . . to a term that is less than the minimum of the amended guideline range' produced by the substitution." Id. (quoting U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(b)(2)(A)). Accordingly, the Court simply lacks the power to reduce defendant's sentence to the requested 60 months imprisonment.

Having determined that the defendant is eligible for a reduced sentence, and that an 84-month term of imprisonment is the "extent" of the reduction authorized, the Court must proceed to "step two" of the inquiry and determine "whether the authorized reduction is warranted, either in whole or in part, according to the factors set forth in § 3553(a)." Id.; see also 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) ("the court may reduce the term of imprisonment, after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to the extent that they are applicable, if such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission"). Section 3553(a) provides that the following factors should be considered:

(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant;

(2) the need for the sentence imposed--(A) to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense;

(B) to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct;

(C) to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant; and

(D) to provide the defendant with needed educational or vocational training, medical care, or other correctional ...


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