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7th Circuit agrees crack cocaine offender's sentence can't be reduced

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals addressed an issue involving crack cocaine sentencing Tuesday – whether a defendant sentenced under the career offender guideline, but with a downward departure for substantial assistance, is eligible for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. Section 3582(c)(2).

In United States of America v. James Guyton, No. 09-3866, James Guyton appealed the denial by Judge Rudy Lozano in the Northern District of Indiana’s Hammond Division of his motion to have his sentence for a crack cocaine offense reduced. He was sentenced in 2001 for possessing crack cocaine with the intent to distribute and qualified as a career offender. Based on his substantial assistance to the government in prosecuting another person, he was sentenced downward under U.S.S.G. Section 5K1.1 and received a 130-month sentence instead of one in the range of 188 to 235 months in prison.

After the sentencing commission adopted Amendment 706, reducing the base offense levels for crack cocaine offenses and made it retroactive, Guyton moved to have his sentence reduced.

In United States v. Forman, 553 F.3d 585, 589-90 (7th Cir. 2009), the Circuit Court held that a crack cocaine offender sentenced under the career offender guideline wasn’t eligible for reduced sentence under Section 3582(c)(2). But Guyton argued that his actual sentence was based on the crack cocaine guidelines because his sentence did fall within the range that would have applied absent his career offender status.

The 7th Circuit upheld the denial of the motion by the District Court. As a matter of law, a sentence reduction under that section is unavailable to Guyton because his relevant guideline range was established by the career offender guideline before he received the benefit of a substantial assistance departure, wrote Judge David Hamilton. Also, the sentencing commission hasn’t retroactively reduced the career offender guideline that determined Guyton’s guideline range, so reducing his sentence would have been contrary to the policy of the sentencing commission.

The judges found their conclusion to be consistent with the decisions of the 6th, 8th, and 10th Circuits, which held that the only applicable guideline range is the one established before any departures. They noted their decision is in tension with decisions from the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Circuits, and respectfully disagreed with those decisions to the extent that they may be read to allow a sentence reduction in circumstances like Guyton’s.

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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