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United States v. Howard

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 1, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ABDUL HOWARD

          ORDER

          HON. PETRESE B. TUCKER, U.S.D.J.

         AND NOW, this 31st day of July, 2018, upon consideration of the Petitioner's Pro Se Motion for Reduction of Sentence Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) (Doc. 2731), the counseled supplements to Petitioner's Motion (Docs. 2879 and 2894), the Government's Responses (Docs. 2774 and 2886), and Oral Argument held before the Court on July 24, 2018, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED AND DECREED that Petitioner's Motion is GRANTED.[1]

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED as follows:

         1. Petitioner's offense level shall be reduced to 36;[2]

         2. Petitioner's term of imprisonment is REDUCED TO 260 MONTHS. Petitioner shall receive credit for time served, the same terms and conditions from the prior sentence imposed by Judge Stewart Dalzell shall apply, and Petitioner shall pay a special assessment; and

         3. Petitioner's Pro Se Motion Requesting Leave to File Supplemental Pleading (Doc. 2819) is DISMISSED AS MOOT.

---------

Notes:

[1] Petitioner moves this Court to reduce his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582 and Amendment 782 because his sentencing range has been lowered by the Sentencing Commission. Respondent argues that Petitioner is not eligible for a sentence reduction because Amendment 782 does not lower Petitioner's base offense level of 38. Respondent contends that the Honorable Stewart Dalzell did not make formal drug quantity findings; therefore, this Court is permitted to make supplemental quantity findings based on the existing record. Because Petitioner was involved in the drug conspiracy for at least two and a half years, Respondent argues that Petitioner was responsible for at least 25.2 kilograms of cocaine base (“crack”) and his base level remains 38.

A court may reduce the term of imprisonment

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. 994(o) . . . 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). A district court should complete a two-step inquiry under § 3582(c)(2). First, the district court must determine whether a defendant is eligible for a sentence reduction. United States v. Tolendano, 643 Fed.Appx. 145, 148 (3d Cir. 2016) (not precedential) (citing Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 826-27 (2010)). Second, if a defendant is eligible, the district court should consider applicable § 3553(a) factors “to determine if the reduction is authorized in whole or in part under the particular circumstances of the case.” Id. (citing Dillon, 560 U.S. at 827).

In addressing the first step of the inquiry, the Court determines that Petitioner is eligible for a sentence reduction. Judge Dalzell adopted the Probation Office's Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) at both Petitioner's sentencing and re-sentencing and found Petitioner accountable for more than 1.5 kilograms of crack and 150 kilograms of powder cocaine. Judge Dalzell did not make specific quantity findings beyond the amounts adopted in the PSR, and this Court declines to do so.

Respondent cites out-of-circuit authority to support its argument that a court considering a § 3582(c)(2) motion may make supplemental quantity findings based on the existing record where the precise quantity at issue was not firmly decided. However, the Third Circuit has not squarely confronted this issue. The Third Circuit has closely adhered to the Supreme Court's precedent governing § 3582(c)(2) proceedings: namely, that the relevant policy statement places “considerable limits on district court discretion” and that such proceedings “shall substitute the amended Guidelines range for the initial range” and leave “all other guideline application decisions unaffected.” Freeman v. United States, 564 U.S. 522, 531 (2011); Dillon, 560 U.S. at 831; see United States v. Ortiz-Vega, 744 F.3d 869 (3d Cir. 2014). Without Third Circuit precedent on the issue, the Court will follow a more conservative, restricted approach to ยง 3582(c)(2) ...


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