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United States v. Jones

United States District Court, District of Columbia

January 9, 2013

James Antonio JONES, Defendant.

Robert D. Okun, Joan Draper, United States Attorney's Office, Washington, DC, for United States of America.

Page 84

Richard Alan Seligman, Washington, DC, for Defendant.



Now before this Court is defendant James Antonio Jones's Motion for Reconsideration [131], asking the Court to reconsider its Memorandum and Order [129] denying Mr. Jones's Motion for a sentencing reduction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Upon consideration of defendant's Motion [131], the entire record herein, the applicable law, and for the reasons set forth below, defendant's motion will be denied.


Defendant is no stranger to this Court, having made multiple attempts to appeal his conviction and sentence. His story begins in December 1989 when, after a jury trial, the defendant was convicted of conspiracy to violate narcotics laws in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. The case involved the defendant's participation in an extensive four-year drug conspiracy ring run by co-defendant Rayful Edmond III, for which the defendant and 28 other co-defendants were indicted. According to the Presentence Investigation Report (" PSR" ), the defendant was a supervisor and " enforcer." PSR ¶¶ 33-34, Feb. 9, 1990. His sentencing guidelines range was calculated at 360 months to life based on a total offense level of 41 and a criminal history category of III. Id. ¶¶ 3945. The total offense level reflected a base offense level of 36 and was adjusted upward by two points because a firearm was present during the commission of the offense, and the defendant received an additional three point upward adjustment for his role as a manager or supervisor of a criminal activity that involved at least five participants. Id. ¶¶ 3940. The Probation Office followed the United States Sentencing Guidelines (" U.S.S.G." ) § 2D1.4(a), which at the time of the defendant's sentencing directed calculation of the offense level as if the object of the conspiracy were completed. The PSR accordingly calculated a base offense level of 36 for " Distribution of 150 kilograms of a mixture containing cocaine and 1.5 kilograms of a mixture containing cocaine base." Id. ¶ 38. The quantities were based on jury determinations. Judge Charles R. Richey sentenced the defendant on February 15, 1990, to a term of imprisonment of life.

The Court of Appeals subsequently vacated the defendant's sentence and remanded for resentencing. Judge Richey resentenced the defendant to a term of imprisonment of life on September 5, 1990. Judge Richey issued a memorandum opinion memorializing relevant findings. United States v. Edmond, 746 F.Supp. 200 (D.D.C.1990). He noted that many defendants in the conspiracy objected to the quantity of cocaine used to calculate their base offense levels, so he stressed the " inescapable conclusion that the conspiracy involved more than fifty kilograms of cocaine." That quantity is the least amount of cocaine required to trigger a base offense level of 36.

The defendant and his co-defendant filed motions to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, alleging violations of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963). Judge Richey denied the motions, and the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed. United States v. Edmond, 52 F.3d 1080 (D.C.Cir.1995). As to the defendant, the D.C. Circuit stated that he was found guilty of a conspiracy involving " more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and more than 50 grams of cocaine base." Id. at 1088. The Circuit Court vacated the sentences of four co-defendants and remanded the cases for Judge Richey to

Page 85

make particularized findings for each co-defendant regarding the quantities of narcotics for " which they may properly be held accountable" based on the " reasonably foreseeable conduct of their co-conspirators." Id. at 1105-1106. The D.C. Circuit subsequently vacated and remanded as to the defendant for the same purpose. Id. at 1113 ( Per Curiam order of July 19, 1995).

Following remand, the defendant and the government reached an agreement regarding resentencing pursuant to Fed.R.Crim.P. 11(e)(1)(C), the precursor to today's Rule 11(c)(1)(C). The agreement lowered the base offense level applicable to the defendant to 34, which corresponded to quantities of at least 15 kilograms but less than 50 kilograms of cocaine, and at least 150 grams but less than 500 grams of crack. Sent. Agreement ¶ 1. ECF No. 84-6. The agreement expressly stipulated that no " other aspects" of the sentencing were at issue, and the Court understood these " other aspects" to include the sentencing enhancements. Id. Those enhancements produced a total offense level of 39 and a guidelines range for the defendant of a term of imprisonment of 324 to 405 months. The agreement did not specify exact quantities of narcotics and stated that " no other changes need be made in the presentence report." Judge Richey resentenced the defendant on April 17, 1996, to a term of imprisonment of 393 months.

Defendant then filed a pro se motion to modify his sentence on August 10, 2001, and a pro se " Memorandum of Issues" on April 29, 2002. See Oct. 3, 2008 Order, ECF No. 64. Those motions sat dormant until the case was transferred to the undersigned Judge in May 2008. The Court construed defendant's " Memorandum of Issues" as a successive 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion and, finding that the Court had no jurisdiction, ordered that it be transferred to the Court of Appeals. Mem. Op. 1-2, Oct. 27, 2009, ECF No. 91, 2009 WL 3613096. In an unpublished per curiam Order, the Court of Appeals denied defendant's motion for leave to file a successive § 2255 motion. Order 1, Apr. 9, 2010, PACER No. 1239183.

The defendant then filed his first motion for a sentencing reduction on December 15, 2010, following the United States Sentencing Commission's adoption of retroactive amendments to the crack cocaine guidelines, U.S.S.G.App. C, Amend. 706, 711 (2007). Mot. Retroactive Application 1, ECF No. 98. The Court denied the motion. Order 1, Dec. 15, 2010, ECF No. 99. The Court determined that, because the defendant's sentence was based on his Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement and not the sentencing guidelines, he was ineligible for relief under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). The defendant filed a notice of appeal. After this Court's ruling, the Supreme Court decided Freeman v. United States, __ U.S. __, 131 S.Ct. 2685, 180 L.Ed.2d 519 (2011), which held that some sentences conducted pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C) agreements fall within § 3582(c)(2)'s purview. In the defendant's case, the government conceded ...

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