Judge lacked authority to raise cocaine sentence after reduction

July 23, 2015

A cocaine dealer whose prison term was reduced in accordance with changed federal guidelines won an appeal after the judge who cut his sentence by more than 10 years later reimposed the original sentence.

Judge Robert L. Miller of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana reduced Emanuel T. Newman’s sentence for dealing 40 to 50 kilograms of cocaine from 472 months to 348 months on Dec. 30, 2014, in accordance with Amendment 782 of the sentencing guidelines.

“The order states that the judge deemed the prosecutor’s 472-month recommendation too high. The United States did not protest and did not appeal,” Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote in United States of America v. Emanuel T. Newman, 15-1326 and 15-1474. On Jan. 28, Miller amended his order, but the total term remained 348 months.

“But the next day the district judge amended the order yet again. The revised order rearranges which sentences run consecutively to which other sentences, and the upshot is a total of 472 months in prison,” Easterbrook wrote. “The language from the earlier orders stating that 472 months would be too high vanished. The judge did not say why he now thought 472 months the appropriate sentence and did not cite any authority allowing him to add 124 months to Newman’s sentence.

“The United States has confessed error, and for the reasons we have given we agree with its conclusion that the district court lacked the authority to increase Newman’s sentence by an order entered more than 14 days after December 30, 2014.

“The district court’s decision of January 29, 2015, is vacated, and the case is remanded with instructions to reinstate a set of terms that in aggregate cannot exceed 348 months,” the panel concluded.



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