ILNews

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

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

ADVERTISEMENT