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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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