Amendment doesn't affect sentence

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Even though the terms of a defendant's plea agreement didn't prevent him from filing a motion to reduce his sentence, he is ineligible for the reduction under 18 U.S.C. Section 3582(c)(2) because his sentence wasn't affected by an amendment to the sentencing guidelines, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed today.

In United States of America v. John Q. Monroe, No. 08-2945, John Monroe appealed the District Court's denial of his motion for a reduction in the length of his sentence under Section 3582(c)(2). He had pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base and was sentenced to 168 months in prison. He faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 240 months if he was convicted under the charge, which became his "guideline sentence." The downward departure was based on Monroe's cooperation.

After he was sentenced, Amendment 706 to the sentencing guidelines took effect and reduced the base offense levels for drug offenses involving cocaine base by two levels. The District Court denied Monroe's motion for a sentence reduction without discussing the applicability of it to him, but it noted that a reduction wasn't appropriate.

Before ruling on if the amendment applied to Monroe's case, the Circuit Court determined that his plea agreement didn't prevent him from filing his motion. It determined that his motion for a reduction wasn't an appeal or collateral attack, as those were not allowed under the terms of his plea agreement. The federal judges disagreed with the government that motions brought under Section 3582(c)(2) are in essence collateral attacks, citing United States v. Chavez-Salias, 337 F.3d 1170 (10th Cir. 2003).

The evidence in the instant case doesn't show Monroe agreed to give up his right to seek a reduction in the length of his sentence based on a retroactive change in the sentencing guidelines, nor does it show the parties meant for Section 3582(c)(2) motions to be considered collateral attacks, wrote Judge Kenneth Ripple.

Even though he could bring the motion under the terms of his plea agreement, the District Court was correct in finding the amendment didn't apply to Monroe. He's ineligible for the reduction because Section 3582(c)(2) only permits the District Court to modify a sentence where the applicable sentencing range had been lowered. The amendment had no effect on Monroe's case because he was sentenced in accordance to the mandatory minimum sentence, rather than with the sentencing range set up in the guidelines, wrote the judge. The Circuit judges concluded their holding in United States v. Poole, 550 F.3d 676 (7th Circ. 2008), decided after briefs were filed in the instant case, is determinative.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.