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7th Circuit rules on drug sentences

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In a consolidated appeal, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld one man’s sentence following a guilty plea to drug offenses, but sent the other man’s case back to the District Court to reconsider his sentence in light of United States v. Corner.

In United States of America v. Michael Redmond and Charles Avery Jr., Nos. 10-1947, 10-3914, Michael Redmond and Charles Avery Jr. challenged their sentences following guilty pleas to crack cocaine distribution conspiracy and crack cocaine distribution, respectively.

Avery attempted to have his guilty plea withdrawn after learning the prosecution was going to attribute a higher crack cocaine quantity to him. He pleaded guilty without a plea agreement.

The 7th Circuit pointed out that by pleading guilty without the benefit of the plea agreement, he had no guarantees from the government regarding any of this points of contention.

“Even if Avery was under a reasonable misapprehension of what quantity would be attributable to him based on his reliance on the government’s representations, Avery’s status as a career offender, which raised his offense level to 34, made the relevant conduct drug weight irrelevant in determining his Guidelines sentencing range,” wrote Judge Joel Flaum.

The judges affirmed his sentence, finding the government set forth facts to establish the amount of cocaine attributable to Avery and the District Court reasonably concluded that the readily provable quantity of crack cocaine attributable to him for purposes of determining his advisory sentencing guideline range was 51.5 grams.

Regarding Redmond, the 7th Circuit remanded his case to the District Court for the limited purpose of allowing the court to consider his sentence in light of Corner, 598 F.3d 411 (7th Cir. 2010), which was decided after Redmond was sentenced.

Redmond was classified as a career offender under 18 U.S.C. Section 4B1.1, with a criminal history category of VI. The advisory guidelines sentencing range was to be 262 to 327 months. While the District Court agreed that Redmond’s career criminal status “may have overstated the seriousness of his arrest history” and that it would “deviate down from the guidelines,” the court still sentenced Redmond to a longer sentence than he expected – 240 months. Redmond wanted a sentence of 15 or 16 years.

In Corner, the 7th Circuit held that a District Court can vary categorically from every guideline, including the career offender guidelines.

“Though the court certainly could have varied its sentence further, Redmond presents little to show that the district court was constrained in its decision making process. Moreover, that the court sentenced Redmond below the advisory career offender range, suggests that it was not constrained by the guideline calculation. Even so, the district court did suggest that Redmond’s status as a career offender was a significant factor in its sentence, and it is not clear that the court recognized its complete discretion to deviate from the Guidelines career-offender calculation,” wrote the judge.

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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