United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR RELIEF UNDER
THE FIRST STEP ACT OF 2018
BREEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pro se filing dated March 4, 2019, the Defendant, Vinson
Brent Taylor, sought relief in the form of a sentence
reduction under the First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No.
115-391, 132 Stat. 5194 (2018) (the "FSA"). (Docket
Entry ("D.E.") 135.) On June 20, 2019, pursuant to
a Court directive, the Government filed its response (DE.
140), to which the Defendant replied (D.E. 141). The matter
is now ripe for review.
Defendant was indicted in this district on February 22, 2011,
for powder cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana offenses in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). (D.E. 2.) The crimes
occurred between September 15, 2010, and January 10, 2011.
Pursuant to a guilty plea to Count 4 of the indictment,
Taylor was sentenced on February 28, 2013, to 151 months'
incarceration, to be followed by three years of supervised
release. (D.E. 107, 109.) He is currently confined in Bureau
of Prisons custody.
courts are forbidden, as a general matter, to 'modify a
term of imprisonment once it has been imposed.'"
Freeman v. United States, 564 U.S. 522, 526 (2011)
(quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)). However, the rule is
subject to certain narrow exceptions, id, including
the FSA, United States v. Terrell, No. 2:09-CR-031,
2019 WL 3431449, at *l (E.D. Tenn. July 29, 2019).
Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, Pub. L. No. 99-570, 100 Stat.
3207 (1986), established mandatory minimum sentences for
possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute - five
years for possessing five grams and ten years for possession
of fifty grams. United States v. Blewett, 746 F.3d
647, 649 (6th Cir. 2013). In the summer of 2010, Congress
passed the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220,
124 Stat. 2372 (2010), which reduced the sentencing disparity
between offenses involving crack and powder cocaine by
increasing the amount of crack cocaine necessary to trigger
the statutory minimum sentences. Id. Specifically,
the Fair Sentencing Act increased the threshold amount of
crack cocaine with respect to § 841 violations from five
grams to twenty-eight and from fifty grams to 280.
Id. The Fair Sentencing Act changes were not
FSA, signed into law on December 21, 2018, "modified
prior sentencing law and expanded vocational training,
early-release programs, and other programming designed to
reduce recidivism." United States v. Boulding,
379 F.Supp.3d 646, 650 (W.D. Mich. 2019) (quoting United
States v. Simmons, 375 F.Supp.3d 379, 385 (E.D.N.Y.
2019)), appealfiled (6th Cir. June 25, 2019) (No.
19-1706) & (6th Cir. May 28, 2019) (No. 19-1590). Section
404 of the statute, which rendered the Fair Sentencing Act
changes retroactive, states as follows:
SEC. 404. APPLICATION OF FAIR SENTENCING ACT.
(a) DEFINITION OF COVERED OFFENSE-In this section, the term
"covered offense" means 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
(Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372), that was committed
before August 3, 2010.
(b) DEFENDANTS PREVIOUSLY SENTENCED.-A court that imposed a
sentence for a covered offense may, on motion of the
defendant, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, the
attorney for the Government, or the court, impose a reduced
sentence as if sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of
2010 (Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372) were in effect at
the time the covered offense was committed.
(c) LIMITATIONS.-No court shall entertain a motion made under
this section to reduce a sentence if the sentence was
previously imposed or previously reduced in accordance with
the amendments made by sections 2 and 3 of the Fair
Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372)
or if a previous motion made under this section to reduce the
sentence was, after the date of enactment of this Act, denied
after a complete review of the motion on the merits. Nothing
in this section shall be construed to require a court to
reduce any sentence pursuant to this section.
§ 404, 132 Stat, at 5222. The district court in
Boulding established a procedure for evaluating
motions for FSA relief. See United States of America v.
Powers, No. 1:09-cr-211-7, 2019 WL 3812012, at *4 (W.D.
Mich. Aug. 14, 2019) (adopting Boulding analysis),
appeal filed (6th Cir. Aug. 29, 2019) (No. 19-1980);
Terrell, 2019 WL 3431449, at *3 (same). The first
question to be considered is whether the defendant is
eligible for relief under the statutory provisions.
Boulding, 379 F.Supp.3d at 651. Upon a finding of
eligibility, a court "then determines whether to
exercise its discretion to reduce the defendant's
sentence." Id. at 654.
Court finds that Taylor is not eligible for relief. The crime
charged in Count 4 of the indictment to which he pleaded
guilty occurred on December 8, 2010. Thus, because the
offense was not committed before August 3, 2010, it is not a
"covered offense" for purposes of the FSA.
Moreover, when Defendant was sentenced in 2013, the
provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 were in effect.
Therefore, as his "sentence was previously imposed ...
in accordance with the amendments made by sections 2 and 3 of
the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010," the Court is
prohibited from granting relief by § 404(c).
reasons set forth herein, ...