ILNews

Man may not have drug sentence reduced after pleading guilty

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a defendant’s request to reduce his sentence after he pleaded guilty to distributing crack cocaine. The judges also pointed out concerns with the use of a form order in his case.

In United States of America v. Aswan D. Scott, 12-2555, Aswan Scott pleaded guilty to distributing at least 50 grams of crack cocaine, and his agreement specified a term of 192 months in prison. He accepted the binding sentence in order to induce the government to dismiss a repeat-offender notice it had filed under 21 U.S.C. Section 851.

Scott filed a motion seeking a reduction based on Amendment 711 to the sentencing guidelines that retroactively lowered the base offense level for some drug crimes involving crack. Judge Sarah Evans Barker denied the motion because Scott was not eligible for a deduction based on the binding plea agreement.

Instead of appealing, Scott then filed another motion seeking a reduction under Amendment 750. That was also denied, with the only explanation appearing on a form with boxes, with the box checked that said, “The defendant is eligible for a reduction under this amendment, but the Court has determined that such a reduction is not appropriate because of the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that may be posed by a reduction in sentence. (Application Note 1(B) of U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10.)”

Scott argued that the District Court didn’t adequately explain its reason for denying his second motion, which hinders meaningful appellate review.  

“We share his concern with the use of a form order like this. The whole point of the district court’s duty to take into account the factors outlined by section 3553(a) is to apply them to the particulars of a defendant’s case. A form might be an acceptable starting point, but an explanation of the reason why a particular factor applies, rather than a flat statement that it does, will normally be necessary both to guide the district court’s choices and to provide a basis for appellate review,” Judge Diane Wood wrote.

“Indeed, here the form introduced an error into the district court’s analysis, because it stated that he was eligible for a reduction in his sentence, and as we explain in a moment, he was not.”

But the form’s use doesn’t drive the outcome of the case, the judges held, because Scott’s plea agreement makes him ineligible for a sentence reduction.

 


 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

ADVERTISEMENT