Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Doe

April 30, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JOHN DOE, APPELLANT IN 08-3968
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JANE DOE, APPELLANT IN 08-4028



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Nos. 05-cr-00547-002; 05-cr-00547-003) District Judge: Honorable Anita B. Brody.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Aldisert, Circuit Judge.

PRECEDENTIAL

Argued January 7, 2009

Before: FUENTES, FISHER and ALDISERT, Circuit Judges

OPINION OF THE COURT

The Appellants, John and Jane Doe,*fn1 appeal the Eastern District of Pennsylvania's denial of their 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) motions for reduction of sentence. On February 1, 2007, both Appellants pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute, and distribution of, crack cocaine. The Appellants were granted significant substantial-assistance departures below both their statutorily required minimums and below their pre-amendment Guideline ranges. After the United States Sentencing Commission passed Amendment 706, which lowered the U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1 base offense levels for most quantities of crack cocaine by two levels, the Appellants moved the District Court to further reduce their sentences. The District Court denied their motions. On appeal, the Appellants argue that the District Court erred in denying their motions because: 1) they were sentenced to a term of imprisonment that was, at least in part, based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered; 2) the applicable policy statement, found at U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10, is in conflict with the plain text of § 3582(c)(2); 3) the District Court misconstrued U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10; 4) U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10 is merely advisory after Booker v. Washington, 543 U.S. 220 (2005); and 5) the District Court failed to weigh the equities and consider the rule of lenity in its decision. We will affirm.*fn2

I.

John and Jane Doe each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine (21 U.S.C. § 846) and one count of distribution of crack cocaine (21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)), and entered into cooperation plea agreements with the government. John Doe's U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1 base offense level for these convictions was 34. He received a two-level increase for his role in the offense, and a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility, resulting in a total adjusted offense level of 33. His criminal history was category II. Accordingly, this produced a Guidelines sentencing range of 151-188 months of imprisonment. John Doe, however, was also subject to a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison because of prior drug convictions. As the mandatory minimum sentence exceeded the Guidelines range, the mandatory minimum became the Guidelines sentence, pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5G1.1.*fn3

This mandatory minimum Guidelines sentence was not applied to John Doe, however, because of substantial assistance he provided to the government. The government moved for a downward departure from the mandatory minimum sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e) and from the Guidelines range pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1. The District Court ultimately sentenced John Doe, on August 16, 2007, to 84 months imprisonment, a sentence well below both the mandatory minimum Guidelines sentence and the otherwise applicable Guidelines range.

Jane Doe's U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1 base offense level for these convictions was 34. She received a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility, resulting in a total adjusted offense level of 31. Her criminal history was category II. Accordingly, this produced a Guidelines sentencing range of 121-151 months of imprisonment. Jane Doe, however, was also subject to a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years, due to a prior drug conviction. As the mandatory minimum sentence exceeded the Guidelines range, the mandatory minimum became the Guidelines sentence, pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5G1.1.

This mandatory minimum Guidelines sentence was not applied to Jane Doe, however, because, like John Doe, she yielded substantial assistance to the government. The government moved for a downward departure from the mandatory minimum sentence pursuant to § 3553(e) and from the Guidelines range pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1. The District Court ultimately sentenced Jane Doe, on May 17, 2007, to 41 months imprisonment, a sentence well below both the mandatory minimum Guidelines sentence and the otherwise applicable Guidelines range.

On November 1, 2007 -- subsequent to the Appellants' sentencings -- the United States Sentencing Commission passed Amendment 706, which changed U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1 by lowering the base offense levels for most quantities of crack cocaine by two levels. See U.S.S.G. Supp. to App. C. amend. 706. On December 11, 2007, the Sentencing Commission made Amendment 706 retroactive by including it in the list of retroactive amendments in § 1B1.10(c) of the Guidelines.

U.S.S.G. App. C. amend. 713.

Subsequently, both Appellants filed motions for reduction of sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Section 3582(c)(2) provides that, 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, the court may reduce the term of imprisonment if such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission. The District Court applied § 3582(c)(2) and found that a sentence reduction was not consistent with the applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission. The District Court therefore denied the Appellants' motions on September 15, 2008.

II.

In 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c), Congress mandated that courts "may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed." Congress did provide exceptions to this general rule, one of which, § 3582(c)(2), provides,

[I]n 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 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 984(o), upon motion of the defendant or the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, or on its own motion, 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.

18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2).

As the District Court correctly identified, a defendant is eligible for a sentence reduction under § 3582(c)(2) only when two elements are satisfied: First, the defendant must have been "sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission;" and second, the sentence reduction must be "consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission." If a defendant fails to satisfy both requirements, a district court lacks jurisdiction to consider a sentence reduction. We agree with the District Court that the Appellants fail to satisfy the second requirement, and we decide this case solely on that ground.

The Sentencing Commission's policy statements regarding § 3582(c)(2) are set forth in U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10. See U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10 cmt. background. U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(a)(2) provides:

A reduction in the defendant's term of imprisonment is not consistent with this policy statement and therefore is not authorized under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) if --

(A) None of the amendments listed in subsection (c) is applicable to the defendant; or

(B) An amendment listed in subsection

(c) does not have the effect of lowering the defendant's ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.