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United States v. Stephenson

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 15, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
EARLDY STEPHENSON, Defendant

For EARLDY DECORDOVA STEPHENSON, also known as Eardy Decordoba Stephenson, also known as Earl Stephenson, also known as Leroy Stephenson, also known as Leroy Davis, also known as Father, Defendant: Mary Manning Petras, LEAD ATTORNEY, FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER FOR D.C., Washington, DC.

For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff: Margaret J. Chriss, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

OPINION

Page 2

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Royce C. Lamberth, Chief United States District Judge.

Before the Court is defendant Earldy Stephenson's Motion [199] to Further Reduce Sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and Amendment 706, Motion [215] to Reduce Sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and Amendment 750, and Motion [225] for Hearing on defendant's Motions to Reduce Sentence. Upon consideration of defendant's motions [199, 215] to Reduce Sentence, the government's Partial Opposition [218], defendant's Reply [218], the government's Sur-Reply [222], defendant's Response to the government's Sur-Reply [224], defendant's Motion for Hearing [225], the entire record herein, the applicable law, and for the reasons set forth below, defendant's motions to reduce his sentence will be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part, and his motion for a hearing will be DENIED. Defendant's sentence will be reduced to a term of 168 months imprisonment, but all other relief will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

In 2002, pursuant to a written plea agreement, defendant pled guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute 5,000 Grams or More of Cocaine, 50 Grams or More of Cocaine Base, and Marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § § 846, 841(a)(1), and 841(b)(1)(A)(iii). Presentencing Investigation Report (" PSR" ) ¶ ¶ 1-2, Am. Nov. 1, 2002; Am. J. & Commitment Order 1, ECF No. 107. Defendant was convicted of an intent to distribute a total of 1.5 kilograms of cocaine base, 5 kilograms of cocaine hydrocholoride, and 2.5 kilograms of marijuana, which, when converted to its marijuana equivalency, yielded a total of 31,002.5 kilograms of marijuana. PSR ¶ 3, 26. After applicable adjustments, defendant's guideline range was 262 to 327 months imprisonment (total offense level 37; criminal history category III). Am. J. 6. The conviction also carried a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. PSR ¶ 2. On February 6, 2003, the Honorable Ricardo M. Urbina, pursuant to United States v. Smith, [1] departed downward fro the bottom of the guideline range by

Page 3

42 months and sentenced defendant to 220 months imprisonment and 60 months supervised release. Am. J. 2-3, 6; Gov't's Partial Opp'n, 2, Oct. 19, 2011, ECF No. 216.

Since defendant was sentenced, the United States Sentencing Commission (" Commission" ) has twice amended the Sentencing Guidelines (" Guidelines" ) to lower the base offense levels for crack cocaine offenses. See Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 130 S.Ct. 2683, 2688, 177 L.Ed.2d 271 (2010). In 2008, Amendment 706 retroactively lowered defendant's applicable guideline range from 262 to 327 months to 210 to 262 months imprisonment (offense level 35, criminal history category II). U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1 (2008). Defendant filed a motion to reduce sentence, and Judge Urbina, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and Amendment 706, reduced defendant's sentence to 172 months--38 months below the then-amended guideline range. Def.'s Mot. Retroactive 1, ECF No. 198; Order 1, ECF No. 201. One month later, defendant filed a motion to further reduce his sentence to the statutory mandatory minimum of 120 months, but that motion was held in abeyance and has not been ruled upon. Def.'s Mot. Further Reduce 1-2, ECF No. 199; Mot. Abeyance 1, ECF No. 212; Order on Abeyance 1, ECF No. 213.

In 2010, Congress lowered the statutory mandatory minimum sentences for crack cocaine offenses in the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (" FSA" ), Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372. In 2011, the Commission responded to the FSA and issued Amendment 750, which again retroactively lowered defendant's applicable guideline range from 210 to 262 months to 168 to 210 months (offense level 33, criminal history category III). See U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(c), cmt. n.4 (2012); Dep't of Just. Manual Comment 9-27.710A.

In light of these developments, defendant filed a new motion seeking a further reduction of his sentence to time served. Mot. Reduce 1-2, ECF No. 215. Defendant argues he is entitled to a reduced sentence of time served because such a reduction would mirror his original sentence, which included a 42-month downward departure from the then-applicable guideline range. Id. The government does not oppose a sentence reduction to 168 months imprisonment--the bottom of the amended guideline range--but does oppose any further reduction, arguing that section 1B1.10(b)(2) of the Guidelines does not permit this Court to reduce defendant's sentence below the bottom of the amended range. [2] Gov't's Partial Opp'n 1, 9, Oct. 19, 2011, ECF No. 216. Defendant's Reply challenges the validity of section 1B1.10(b)(2) as recently amended, claiming the section may not lawfully be applied because it violates the Sentencing Reform Act and separation of powers principles, and because it was amended and promulgated without ...


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