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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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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

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