United States District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, Knoxville
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
THOMAS A. VARLAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
This matter is before the Court on the defendant’s Motion for Resentencing Pursuant to Amendments 750 and 780 to the Sentencing Guidelines [Doc. 60]. The defendant moves the Court to reduce his sentence, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), in light of Amendments 750 and 780 to United States Sentencing Guidelines. The government has responded, stating that the defendant is eligible for a sentence reduction and deferring to the Court’s discretion as to the amount of any such reduction [Doc. 63]. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the defendant’s motion and reduce his sentence to eighty months’ imprisonment.
On October 21, 2005, the defendant pleaded guilty to and was convicted of distributing fifty grams or more of a mixture and substance containing cocaine base (“crack cocaine”), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A) [Doc. 17; Doc. 24].
The Court sentenced the defendant on January 27, 2006 [Doc. 23; Doc. 24]. At the time of his sentencing, the defendant was subject to a statutory mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of twenty years, due to his prior felony drug offense. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A). Thus, the Court sentenced the defendant to a term of imprisonment of two hundred forty months, followed by a term of supervised release of ten years [Doc. 24].
On December 31, 2008, the government moved for a downward departure of forty-eight months, to one hundred ninety-two months’ imprisonment, in order to account for the defendant’s assistance to the government that became useful more than one year after sentencing, pursuant to Rule 35(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure [Doc. 30]. Accordingly, the Court amended the defendant’s sentence to a term of imprisonment of one hundred ninety-two months [Doc. 34]. The defendant is currently scheduled to be released on July 21, 2019 [Doc. 60 p. 2; Doc. 63 p. 2].
On November 1, 2011, Amendment 750 to the Sentencing Guidelines went into effect. U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual app. C, amend. 750. The amendment revised the drug quantity table of section 2D1.1(c) of the Sentencing Guidelines to adjust downward the base offense levels for offenses involving crack cocaine. Id. The Sentencing Commission provided that Amendment 750 would have retroactive effect through Amendment 759. Id. at app. C, amend. 759.
The Sixth Circuit concluded, however, that defendants whose sentences were originally restricted to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment, but who had received a departure below the mandatory minimum due to their substantial assistance, were not eligible for a sentence reduction as a result of Amendments 750 and 759. United States v. Joiner, 727 F.3d 601, 604–09 (6th Cir. 2013); United States v. Williams, 512 F. App’x 594, 597–600 (6th Cir. 2013).
The majority of circuits to consider the issue were in accord. See United States v. Johnson, 747 F.3d 915, 917 (7th Cir. 2014); United States v. Johnson, 732 F.3d 109, 113–15 (2d Cir. 2013); United States v. Glover, 686 F.3d 1203, 1206–08 (11th Cir. 2012). The Third Circuit and the District of Columbia Circuit held to the contrary, finding that such defendants were eligible for a sentence reduction. In re Sealed Case, 722 F.3d 361, 365–70 (D.C. Cir. 2013); United States v. Savani, 733 F.3d 56, 60–67 (3d Cir. 2013).
In response to this split, the Sentencing Commission issued Amendment 780, which “generally adopts the approach of the Third Circuit in Savani and the District of Columbia Circuit in In re Sealed Case.” U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual app. C, amend. 780 (Reason for Amendment 780). The amendment took effect on November 1, 2014. Id. The defendant’s present motion for a sentence reduction followed.
A defendant is eligible for a sentence reduction pursuant to § 3582(c)(2) if: “(1) the defendant ‘has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission’; and (2) such reduction is ‘consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.’” Joiner, 727 F.3d at 604 (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2)).
Section 1B1.10 of the Sentencing Guidelines addresses reductions under § 3582(c)(2):
In determining whether, and to what extent, a reduction in the defendant’s term of imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and this policy statement is warranted, the court shall determine the amended guideline range that would have been applicable to the defendant if the amendment(s) to the guidelines ...