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Man may not have drug sentence reduced after pleading guilty

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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.

 


 

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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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