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United States v. Murphy

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS


June 26, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DARRON MURPHY, JR., DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Murphy, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Darron Murphy, Jr., is serving a 188 month sentence which was imposed by this Court on April 13, 2004 (see Doc. 23). On March 10, 2008, Murphy wrote to the Court requesting counsel to assist him in seeking a reduction in his sentence pursuant to recent amendments to the United States Sentencing Guidelines; the Court construed this letter as a motion (Doc. 34). Murphy later filed a pro se motion for retroactive application of sentencing guidelines to crack cocaine offense pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582 (Doc. 36). The Court appointed counsel to represent Murphy on this issue, and counsel has now moved to withdraw on the basis that he can make no non-frivolous arguments in support of a reduction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) (Doc. 38). See Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738, 744 (1967). Murphy filed a lengthy response to counsel's motion to withdraw, urging the Court to find that the Forman case, discussed below, was wrongly decided.

Section 3582(c)(2) allows the Court to reduce a defendant's previously imposed sentence where "a defendant . . . has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 994(o)."

In doing so, the Court must consider the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) and must ensure that any reduction "is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission." 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Thus, a defendant urging a sentence reduction under § 3582(c)(2) must satisfy two criteria: (1) the Sentencing Commission must have lowered the applicable guideline sentencing range, and (2) the reduction must be consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission. If the defendant cannot satisfy the first criterion, the Court has no subject matter jurisdiction to consider the reduction request. United States v. Lawrence, 535 F.3d 631, 637-38 (7th Cir. 2008); see United States v. Forman, 553 F.3d 585, 588 (7th Cir.), cert. denied sub nom McKnight v. United States, 129 S.Ct. 1924 (2009).

Murphy is not entitled to a reduction in his sentence because he cannot satisfy the first criterion of that statute; he was not "sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 994(o)." 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Amendments 706 and 711 amended U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c) as of November 1, 2007, to lower by two points the base offense levels associated with various amounts of crack cocaine. The Sentencing Commission amended U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c) intending to alter the disparity in sentences involving crack cocaine and sentences involving powder cocaine. Murphy, however, was sentenced based on his base offense level set forth in U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 ("Career Offender"), not his base offense level set forth in U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1. See Forman, 553 F.3d at 589-90. Thus, his guideline range has not been lowered, and he cannot satisfy the first criterion under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) for obtaining a sentence reduction. The Court is simply not authorized to do something that Forman prohibits.

The Court therefore GRANTS counsel's motion to withdraw (Doc. 38) and DISMISSES the motions for a sentence reduction (Docs. 34, 36) for lack of jurisdiction.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

G. Patrick Murphy United States District Judge

20090626

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