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Court upholds sentence-reduction denial

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Even though a defendant may be eligible for a sentence reduction under new crack cocaine sentencing guidelines, it is up to the District Court's discretion to grant a reduced sentence, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today. The Circuit Court affirmed a District Court's denial to reduce a man's sentence because of his behavior while in prison.

In United States of America v. Victor A. Young, No. 08-1863, a U.S. District judge of Indiana's Northern District declined granting Victor Young's motion to reduce his sentence under 18 U.S.C. Section 3582(c)(2) for possessing crack cocaine with the intent to distribute even though the government agreed a sentence reduction was appropriate. The District judge based his decision on the contents of an addendum that reported Young had been sanctioned 15 times for incidents of misconduct while in prison. The judge reasoned that this behavior reflected poorly on his ability to be rehabilitated and he posed a danger to the community if his sentence was reduced.

In his appeal, Young challenged the process the District Court used to rule on his motion. He believed if the court was to rely on new information about his prison sanctions, he should have been given notice to contest it.

However, Young did have access to the addendum prepared by the probation office four days before he filed his motion and could have addressed the information in his initial submission to the court but did not, wrote 7th Circuit Judge Diane Sykes.

The judge did think his behavior in prison was important and by written order and without holding a hearing, denied Young's motion. And, under Section 3582(c)(2), the District Court has substantial discretion in deciding how to adjudicate those motions, wrote Judge Sykes.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals hadn't attempted to identify the minimum procedural protections required under the section but declined to do so today. Even if the appellate court assumed a defendant has to have an opportunity to comment on post-sentencing conduct in a Section 3582(c)(2) proceeding, Young had that opportunity.

The defendant bears the burden of requesting the court for a different procedure, but Young never did. Even if he thought four days wasn't enough time to investigate the sanctions in the addendum, he could have raised the issue for more time, wrote Judge Sykes.

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

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