Judges uphold man’s 151-month sentence

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A judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals believed a defendant was entitled to resentencing because the District judge could only view him through “career-offender tinted glasses” even though the career offender distinction did not ultimately apply to him.

Bernard Hawkins appealed the denial of his motion under 28 U.S.C. Section 2255 to set aside his sentence because there’s a question of whether an error in calculating the applicable guideline sentencing range can be correct in a post-conviction proceeding since the guidelines are advisory rather than mandatory. In 2003, he assaulted two U.S. Marshals trying to arrest him for failure to attend a court hearing while on supervised release.

At the time of his sentencing, he was considered a career offender because he had two “walkaway” escape convictions. He was sentenced to 151 months by Judge James Moody, the bottom of the guideline range. If he wasn’t considered a career offender, the guideline range for the assault would have been anywhere from 15 to 30 months.

The 7th Circuit ordered Hawkins resentenced after United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), which declared the guidelines as advisory instead of mandatory. Moody gave him the same 151-month sentence. Three years later, the U.S. Supreme Court held in United States v. Chambers, 555 U.S. 122, 127-30 (2009), that a "walkaway" escape conviction isn't a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act. That ruling led to this appeal.

The majority found this case distinguishable from Navarez v. United States, 674 F.3d 621, (7th Cir. 2011) a very similar case in with Navarez was entitled to sentence relief on his post-conviction motion, because Navarez had been sentenced when the guidelines were mandatory and Hawkins was resentenced under the advisory guidelines.

“If we ordered resentencing, the judge could reimpose the identical sentence. The defendant’s criminal record would justify the judge’s doing that,” Judge Richard Posner wrote for the majority in Bernard Hawkins v. United States of America, 11-1245.  

Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner dissented, finding the court’s rationale for reaching the opposite conclusion in this case as compared to Navarez as “illusory.” Like Navarez, Hawkins was seen as a career offender before Moody on resentencing, even if the law didn’t impose that label on him anymore.

“… I would reverse … and remand to the District Court to allow Mr. Hawkins to stand before it without the errantly imposed black mark of a career offender,” she wrote.



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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.