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United States v. Patrick

May 19, 2008

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DWIGHT LEE PATRICK, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas A. Varlan United States District Judge

(VARLAN/GUYTON)

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This criminal case is before the Court on defendant's Motion for Resentencing Pursuant to the Retroactive Amendment to the Sentencing Guidelines [Doc. 26], in which the defendant requests that the Court resentence him pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) which permits the Court to reduce a defendant's sentence if the sentencing range has been lowered since defendant was initially sentenced. The Government has responded deferring to the Court's determination as to whether a reduction is appropriate [Doc. 27].

I. Legal Background

A district court may modify a defendant's sentence after judgment has been entered only if modification is permitted by statute. United States v. Ross, 245 F.3d 577, 586 (6th Cir. 2001). Modification is permitted by 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) when the sentencing range for the offense for which the defendant was sentenced has been lowered:

[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 . . . 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.

Through Amendment 706 to the Sentencing Guidelines, effective November 1, 2007, the Sentencing Commission lowered the sentencing ranges for most cocaine base offenses by two offense levels in an effort to correct the disparity in sentences between defendants punished for cocaine base offenses and defendants punished for other drug offenses. See U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1. Amendment 706 is not effective for offenses involving two or more different types of controlled substances, even when one of the substances is crack cocaine, because, pursuant to Application Note 10(D) of U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1, the drug quantities are converted to their marijuana equivalents and defendant's offense level is determined by the marijuana portion of the drug quantity table. Accordingly, the Sentencing Commission enacted Amendment 715, effective on May 1, 2008, which provides for a two level reduction of most offenses involving crack cocaine and at least one other controlled substance, in order to effectuate the two-level reduction intended by Amendment 706 in this type of case. Amendment 715, Application Note 10(D) of U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1 provides:

(i) In General.--Except as provided in sudivision (ii), if the offense involves cocaine base ("crack") and one or more other controlled substance, determine the combined offense level as provided by subdivision (B) of this note, and reduce the combined offense level by 2 levels.

(ii) Exceptions to 2-level Reduction.--The 2-level reduction provided in subdivision (i) shall not apply in a case in which:

(I) the offense involved 4.5 kg or more, or less than 250 mg, of cocaine base; or

(II) the 2-level reduction results in a combined offense level that is less than the combined offense level that would apply under subdivision (B) of this note if the offense involved only the other controlled substance(s) (i.e., the controlled substances other than cocaine base).

Both Amendment 706 and 715 may be applied retroactively. See U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(c). Accordingly, if the sentencing range for a defendant's offense has been lowered by either of these amendments, the Court has discretion under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) to reduce a defendant's sentence for an offense involving cocaine base, after considering the § 3553 factors, if the reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.

The Sentencing Commission has issued a general policy statement regarding reduction of sentences as a result of the amendments to certain guideline ranges, including the ranges for most cocaine base offenses. U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10. The policy statement partially limits the Court's discretion in reducing a defendant's sentence:

(A) In General.--Except as provided in subdivision (B), the court shall not reduce the defendant's term of imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2) and this policy statement to a term that is less than the minimum of the amended ...


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