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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. All the lawyers involved in this don't add up to a hill of beans; mostly yes-men punching their tickets for future advancement. REMF types. Window dressing. Who in this mess was a real hero? the whistleblower that let the public know about the torture, whom the US sent to Jail. John Kyriakou. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/26/us/ex-officer-for-cia-is-sentenced-in-leak-case.html?_r=0 Now, considering that Torture is Illegal, considering that during Vietnam a soldier was court-martialed and imprisoned for waterboarding, why has the whistleblower gone to jail but none of the torturers have been held to account? It's amazing that Uncle Sam's sunk lower than Vietnam. But that's where we're at. An even more unjust and pointless war conducted in an even more bogus manner. this from npr: "On Jan. 21, 1968, The Washington Post ran a front-page photo of a U.S. soldier supervising the waterboarding of a captured North Vietnamese soldier. The caption said the technique induced "a flooding sense of suffocation and drowning, meant to make him talk." The picture led to an Army investigation and, two months later, the court martial of the soldier." Today, the US itself has become lawless.

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  5. My mother got temporary guardianship of my children in 2012. my husband and I got divorced 2015 the judge ordered me to have full custody of all my children. Does this mean the temporary guardianship is over? I'm confused because my divorce papers say I have custody and he gets visits and i get to claim the kids every year on my taxes. So just wondered since I have in black and white that I have custody if I can go get my kids from my moms and not go to jail?

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