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United States v. Andrews

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

May 16, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MARK ANTHONY ANDREWS

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Leon Jordan, United States District Judge

         By judgment entered March 15, 1994, this Court sentenced the defendant to a net term of life imprisonment after a jury found the defendant guilty on 12 counts of the indictment. The life sentence was statutorily mandated for the conviction on Count Two, conspiring to distribute powder cocaine.

         Now before the Court is the defendant's “Motion for Sentence Reduction Pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018.” [Doc. 1154]. Through counsel, the defendant asks the Court to reduce his sentence pursuant to United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), and the First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-391, 132 Stat. 5194, which retroactively applies certain provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372. Counsel electronically submitted the motion using a filing code which indicated that the defendant is “eligible for immediate release.”

         The United States has responded in opposition to the motion [doc. 1155] and the defendant has submitted a reply [doc. 1156]. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.

         I.

         Authority

         “Federal 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, 564 U.S. 522, 526 (2011) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). One such exception is 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B), which provides that “the court may modify an imposed term of imprisonment to the extent otherwise expressly permitted by statute . . . .” The First Step Act, which was enacted on December 21, 2018, expressly permits sentence modification for some defendants.

         II.

         Section 404 of the First Step Act

         Section 404(b) of the First Step Act instructs that the “court that imposed a sentence for a covered offense may, on motion of the defendant . . ., impose a reduced sentence as if sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 . . . were in effect at the time the covered offense was committed.” A “covered offense” is “a violation of a Federal criminal statute, the statutory penalties for which were modified by section 2 or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 . . ., that was committed before August 3, 2010.” First Step Act, § 404(a).

         Section 2 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 modified the statutory penalties for certain cocaine base offenses. Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372. Section 3 of that act eliminated enhanced mandatory minimum sentences for simple possession of cocaine base. Id.

Pursuant to the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Mark Andrews would have faced a reduced sentence had it been in effect at the time. His conviction and sentence were for a violation of an offense covered by Section[] … 404 of the First Step Act. If Section 2 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 had been in effect at the time of Mark Andrews's sentencing, he would not have been subject to a minimum mandatory life sentence and qualifies for a reduction in his sentence.

[Doc. 1154, ¶ 13]. The defendant is simply incorrect.

         Again, the First Step Act offers the possibility of a reduced sentence for persons sentenced prior to the enactment of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 who were convicted of a “covered offense, ” that being a cocaine base offense affected by section 2 or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act. The instant defendant was ...


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