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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. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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