United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
RONNIE GREER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
criminal case is before the Court on the motion of defendant
for a reduction of sentence, [Doc. 33]. Defendant requests a
reduction in sentence pursuant to Amendments 782 and 788 to
the United States Sentencing Guidelines. The United States
has responded and acknowledges the defendant is eligible for
a reduction in sentence but defers to the Court's
discretion whether and to what extent to reduce
defendant's sentence, [Doc. 34]. The motion will be
GRANTED in part.
Factual and Procedural Background
defendant was convicted of Count 3, possessing with intent to
distribute marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1), (b)(1)(D), and Count 4, possessing a firearm in
furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). He was held accountable for 438
kilograms of marijuana, resulting in a base offense level of
8. The base offense level was decreased by two levels
pursuant to USSG § 3E1.1 (acceptance of responsibility),
resulting in a total offense level of 6. The defendant's
criminal history category was III, which resulted in a range
of 2 to 8 months. The firearms charge required a consecutive
sentence of no less than 60 months. The effective guidelines
range was 62 to 68 months. The Court sentenced the defendant
to five months for Count 3 and 60 months for Count 4 to run
consecutively for a net effective sentence of 65 months.
time of the entry of his guilty plea, the defendant
stipulated to the following facts:
a) Through the testimony of several witnesses, including
co-conspirators, the United States would demonstrate, beyond
a reasonable doubt, that on August 14, 2012 in the Eastern
District of Tennessee, the defendant did knowingly,
intentionally, and without authority, possess with the intent
to distribute marijuana, a Schedule I controlled substance
and that he possessed one or more firearms in furtherance of
this drug trafficking crime.
b) The defendant admits that on August 14, 2012 he was found
by law enforcement slumped over the steering wheel of vehicle
stopped at an intersection in Greeneville, Tennessee.
Further, the defendant admits that he was under the influence
of drugs and alcohol and that he was the sole human occupant
in the vehicle.
c) The defendant admits that law enforcement found several
items related to drug trafficking inside the vehicle. These
items included marijuana, prescription pills, and
approximately $2, 100 in United States currency that were
found on the defendant. Additionally, two vacuum sealed
plastic bags containing marijuana, a vacuum sealer, a scale,
an additional $110 in United States currency, and two
firearms were found in the vehicle. The defendant admits that
the total weight of the marijuana was approximately 438 grams
and that he planned on selling this marijuana to others.
d) The defendant admits that he purchased the two firearms
found during the search of the vehicle from one of his
sources that supplied him with marijuana. The defendant
admits that he paid this drug dealer $400 for the Smith and
Wesson, model 645, .45 caliber pistol and $100 for the
Taurus, model 85, .38 caliber revolver. The defendant also
admits that the firearms were loaded and that he possessed
these firearms in furtherance of his drug trafficking crime,
that is, to protect himself, his marijuana, and his proceeds
from the sale of marijuana. The defendant also admits that he
has been previously instructed by a Court that he could not
possess a firearm because of his convictions for distributing
Standard of Review
courts are forbidden, as a general matter, to modify a term
of imprisonment once it has been imposed, but the rule of
finality is subject to a few narrow exceptions.”
Freeman v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 2685, 2690
(2011) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). Title
18 United States Code § 3582(c)(2), however, gives a
district court authority to modify a term of imprisonment
that has been imposed on a defendant “who has been
sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing
range that has been subsequently lowered by the Sentencing
Commission, ” 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c), through a
retroactively applicable amendment such as Amendment 782.
Id.; USSG § 1B1.10. The Court may reduce the
term, “after considering the factors set forth in
§ 3553(a) to the extent 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). Section 1B1.10 identifies the guideline
amendments that may be applied retroactively, and sets out
the factors for deciding a sentence reduction motion under
§ 3582(c). The Supreme Court has made clear that §
3582 does not require a sentencing or resentencing
proceeding, but gives courts the power to reduce an otherwise
final sentence under circumstances established by the
Sentencing Commission. Dillon v. United States, 560
U.S. 817 (2010); United States v. Curry, 606 F.3d
323, 330 (6th Cir. 2010); USSG § 1B1.10, Cmt.
background (noting that a reduction under § 1B1.10 is
discretionary and “does not entitle a defendant to a
reduced term of imprisonment as a matter of right”).
3582(c)(2) establishes a two-step inquiry: First, the court
must determine whether the defendant is eligible for a
sentence reduction. If she is, the court must then consider
whether, in its discretion, the authorized reduction is
warranted in whole or in part under the circumstances.
Dillon, 130 S.Ct. at 2691-92; United States v.
Greenwood, 521 Fed. App'x 544, 547 (6th
Cir. 2013). In exercising its discretion, the court is
required to consider public safety factors and is permitted
to consider post-sentencing conduct in deciding whether a
reduction in the defendant's term of imprisonment is
warranted. USSG § 1B1.10, Cmt. (n. 1(B)(ii)-(iii)).
Thus, the district court is required to consider both the
§ 3553(a) factors and “the nature and seriousness
of the danger to any person or the community that may be
posed by a reduction in defendant's term of
imprisonment.” Curry, 606 F.3d at 330 (quoting
USSG § 1B1.10, Cmt. n. 1(B)(ii)).
relevant factors here demonstrate that a reduction is
appropriate but that the reduction should be less than that
requested by defendant. First is the seriousness of
defendant's criminal conduct. The defendant asks that he
receive 0 months for the marijuana charge in Count 3, for the
new range on this count is 0 to 6 months. Under the
circumstances in this case, including the quantity of drugs,
the Court determines a 0-month sentence is not appropriate.
This Court saw fit, for a number of factors, to sentence the
defendant to the middle of the original guideline range, and
this Court again deems that ...