7th Circuit declines to grant prisoner’s limited remand request on crediting issue

A prisoner seeking to remedy the reimposition of his original restitution order, which excluded hundreds of dollars he had already paid towards it, was denied his request on Monday after the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded he would receive credit for the amount one way or another.

Ka’ba Muhammad was convicted in 2001 for being a felon in possession of a firearm and stealing firearms from a federally licensed firearms dealer and sentenced as an armed career criminal. For his crimes, Muhammad was ordered to pay $10,421.66 in restitution to the firearms dealer and its insurer under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act.

On collateral review, Muhammad’s sentence was vacated after the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois found he was improperly sentenced as an armed career criminal.

Once the case was transferred to the Indiana Northern District, the court resentenced Muhammad to time served and one year of supervised release. It also ordered him to pay $10,421.66 in restitution after relying on the restitution amount in the U.S. Probation Office’s revised presentence report and the parties’ statements that Muhammad had not made any restitution payments.

Muhammad appealed, asking for a limited remand to revisit the restitution issue. He maintained that an error had occurred when the district court relied on “inaccurate information” in reimposing his full restitution when he had already paid $433.32 towards that amount.

Finding Muhammad forfeited that argument by failing to object to the district court’s restitution decision at resentencing, the 7th Circuit affirmed in United States of America v. Ka’ba S. Muhammad, 21-1441.

Judges were unconvinced that the district court’s error — if any — rose to the level of a “miscarriage of justice.”

“Muhammad concedes that he did owe $10,421.66 in restitution under the MVRA, so the restitution judgment noting Muhammad’s restitution obligation of $10,421.66 is not inaccurate,” 7th Circuit Judge Candace Jackson-Akiwumi wrote, adding that his complaints amount to a crediting issue.

“Muhammad’s payments while incarcerated may have escaped the parties’ attention before, but there is now no disagreement among the parties or the district court — or us — that he should receive full credit for all payments made toward his restitution obligation. The government acknowledged in its briefing and at oral argument that Muhammad should receive full credit for his payments,” she continued.

“The district court signaled its willingness to credit Muhammad for his payments when it entered an order attempting to update the record on appeal. In sum, we are confronted with a crediting issue about which all involved agree, even if it requires some diligence by the district court and the government offices that track Muhammad’s restitution payments to ensure that Muhammad is properly and officially credited.”

The 7th Circuit therefore declined to order a limited remand, concluding that it is “confident” Muhammad has or will receive credit for the $433.32.

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