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Defendants' drug sentences ineligible for reduction

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the sentences of six members of a Gary street gang for various crack cocaine and other offenses, finding none of the men are eligible to have their sentences reduced based on the retroactive crack cocaine amendments to the sentencing guidelines.

The appeals by Bobby Suggs, Aaron Davis, Sentai Suggs, Terraun Price, Terence Dilworth and William Davison were consolidated before the 7th Circuit. All appealed the denial of their motions to have their sentences reduced. Bobby and Sentai Suggs and Terraun Price were sentenced to life imprisonment; Davis received 405 months in prison; and Dilworth and Davison received 360-month sentences. At their sentencing hearings, the District Court concluded that each was responsible for distributing in excess of 1.5 kilograms of crack cocaine, but larger amounts attributable to each defendant were mentioned at their hearings.

After the United States Sentencing Commission adopted Amendment 706 in 2007, which lowered the base offense level for crack cocaine offenses by two levels, the men requested sentence reductions. When they were sentenced, 1.5 kilograms or more of crack cocaine was assigned the highest possible base offense level of 38, after the amendment, only offenses of 4.5 kilograms or more would receive that level. Offenses between 1.5 kilograms and 4.5 kilograms received a base level offense of 36.

The District Court upheld each man’s sentence, finding it did not have statutory authority and jurisdiction to reduce Bobby Suggs’ sentence because his guideline range hadn’t been lowered by the amendment. With regards to the other men, the District Court found more than 4.5 kilograms of crack cocaine could be attributed to them, so their guideline range wasn’t impacted by the amendment.

The 7th Circuit agreed in United States of America v. Aaron M. Davis, Bobby Suggs, et al., 11-1313, 11-1323, et al., noting that at the men’s original sentencing hearings, the presentence investigation reports and judge had discussed higher amounts each man could be responsible for, including more than 17 kilos to Bobby Suggs.  

 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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