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7th Circuit remands denial of request for crack cocaine sentence reduction

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A man sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for his role as a Gary gang member who sold large quantities of crack cocaine will have a new shot at a sentence modification, as will the judge who wrote that the defendant may have been linked to several gang-related murders.

William J. Davidson’s 2003 conviction of two counts of distributing at least 50 grams of crack cocaine was affirmed on appeal. Circuit Judge Richard Posner wrote Wednesday in United States of America v. William J. Davidson, 14-1158, that a District judge in Hammond subsequently erred in denying Davidson’s motion for sentence reduction under revised guidelines made retroactive in 2011.

“(W)hether the defendant in this case is liable for the sale of illegal drugs by other members of the conspiracy that he had joined, in an amount in excess of the limit (8.4 kilograms) for the sentence reduction that he seeks, depends not only on whether the sale quantity was foreseeable to him (which the judge found that it was), but also on whether he joined with those other conspirators in a joint undertaking of which the making of those sales was an objective, or had agreed to join in such an undertaking. And that is a question that neither the district judge nor the government addressed,” Posner wrote for the panel.

Posner also noted that in sentencing Davidson in 2003, District Judge James T. Moody remarked that “‘more likely than not, he (Davidson) was a shooter,’ that is, he had been involved, as either an accomplice or the actual triggerman, in murders carried out in furtherance of the conspiracy” during his three years of membership in the Concord Affiliated gang.

“… It is noteworthy that nowhere in his opinion denying the sentence reduction does the judge treat the murders as relevant conduct; rather he treats the gang’s entire sales during the period of the defendant’s membership as relevant conduct,” Posner wrote.

“The possible significance of the murders to the question of the defendant’s relevant conduct thus remains an unresolved issue. It is a factual issue for the district judge to resolve in the first instance, as are any other factual issues regarding the defendant’s relevant conduct.”

 

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  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.

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