United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. Lamberth Senior United States District Judge
the Court are defendant Curtis Houston's motion  and
supplemental motion  seeking a sentence reduction
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), and based upon the
retroactive application of Amendment 782 of the United States
Sentencing Guidelines (the "Guidelines"). After
considering the motion, the entire record herein, and the
applicable law, the Court will DENY his
September 23, 2011, defendant Houston pleaded guilty to one
count of Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to
Distribute cocaine, in contravention of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A), pursuant to Fed. R.
Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C). Plea Agreement, ECF No. 135¶1.
accepting the terms of his plea agreement, defendant Houston
both acknowledged that he was "accountable for more than
280 grams of cocaine base but less than 840 grams of cocaine
base, . . . and more than 5 kilograms of cocaine but less
than 15 kilograms of cocaine," which together
represented "the total amount involved in [his] relevant
criminal conduct." Id. ¶ 2. He and the
Government separately agreed that "a sentence of 14
years (168 months) of imprisonment [was] the appropriate
sentence for this offense." Id. ¶ 3.
Further, defendant Houston and the Government agreed as
Should the Court not agree that the sentence agreed upon by
the parties is appropriate, and [if defendant Houston] does
not withdraw his plea, [he] and the Government agree to the
following: [Defendant Houston] will be sentenced according to
Title 18, United States Code, Sections 3553(a) and 3553(c)
through (f) and upon consideration of the United States
Id. ¶ 5.
April 30, 2014, the U.S. Sentencing Commission ("the
Commission") submitted to Congress Amendment 782 of the
Guidelines, proposing a downward revision to the applicable
sentencing ranges for drug trafficking offenses. The
Commission then passed Amendment 788 to allow Amendment
782's revisions to be applied retroactively, and on
November 1, 2014, Amendment 782 and its retroactive
application became effective. In his current motion,
defendant Houston seeks relief under these amended provisions
of the Sentencing Guidelines.
grant a motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C.
§ 3582(c)(2), two separate conditions must exist. A
prisoner must (1) be eligible for the requested reduction and
(2) early release must be warranted. Dillon v. United
States, 560 U.S. 817, 827 (2010). Defendant Houston
fails to meet the second of these requirements because the
facts of this case do not warrant early release in accordance
with any of the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. §
3553(a). See Id. § 3582(c)(2) (the Court may
reduce the term of imprisonment "on its own
motion," but must consider and weigh the factors set
forth in § 3553(a)).
Defendant Houston's sentence was based upon the
United States v. Epps, 707 F.3d 337, 352 (D.C. Cir.
2013), the D.C. Circuit explained that under §
3582(c)(2), a prisoner who had entered into a Rule
11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement is eligible for a sentence
reduction if his sentence was "based on a sentencing
range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing
Commission." Id. (citing 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(2)'s standard for a sentence reduction). The
opinion applied and interpreted Freeman v. United
States, 564 U.S. 522 (2011), where a plurality of the
Supreme Court explained that plea agreements do not
automatically disqualify a defendant for relief under §
3582(c)(2). The D.C. Circuit reasoned specifically that, to
determine whether a defendant's term of incarceration was
"based on" a specific Guidelines range, courts
should focus on "the reasons given by the district court
for accepting the sentence that was ultimately imposed."
Epps, 707 F.3d at 351.
Epps reasoning no longer controls this inquiry. Last
Term, in Hughes v. United States, the Supreme Court
modified the Freeman plurality, explaining that
because the "Sentencing Guidelines prohibit district
courts from accepting [Rule 11(c)(1)(C)] agreements without
first evaluating the recommended sentence in light of the
defendant's Guidelines range, ... the court's
acceptance of a Type-C agreement and the sentence to be
imposed pursuant to that agreement are" necessarily
'"based on' the defendant's Guidelines
range." Hughes v. United States, 138 S.Ct.
defendant Houston's sentencing hearing, the Government
presented an allocution and requested the Court to
"accept the 11(c)(1)(C) agreed-upon time"
to which it and defendant . Houston agreed, "which is a
sentence of 168 months." Tr. of Feb. 28, 2012 Sentencing
at 3:16-19 (emphasis added). The Government thus
acknowledged, on the record, that the agreed sentence was in
accord with the Sentencing Guidelines. Furthermore,
defendant's counsel correctly noted, on the record, that
"168 months is the low end of the [Guidelines]
range." Id. at 5:05-06. The Government did not
dispute this assertion. See Id. The Court imposed
the agreed-upon sentence of 168 ...