The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge
Friday, 18 February, 2011 03:39:15 PM Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD
On January 27, 2011, the Court held a sentencing hearing in this case.
At the hearing, the Court ruled that the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220, applied to this Defendant.
This opinion explains the Court's rationale for its holding.
On November 3, 2009, a federal grand jury returned a single-count indictment against Defendant Holloman, charging him with possession with intent to distribute over 5 grams of crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a) and 841(b)(1)(B). The indictment indicated that the offense conduct occurred on February 19, 2009.
On August 3, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 ("FSA"). The FSA made a number of changes to drug laws, but importantly for our case, it removed the mandatory minimum sentences for certain crack cocaine offenses.
On August 11, 2010, the Government filed a notice under 21 U.S.C. 851, indicating that a prior felony drug conviction could subject Defendant Holloman to an enhanced statutory mandatory minimum sentence.
On August 16, 2010, Defendant Holloman entered an open plea of guilty to the one-count indictment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Byron G. Cudmore. The Court accepted the plea of guilty on September 7, 2010.
The Probation Officer prepared the Presentence Investigation Report (PSR). In the PSR, the Probation Officer calculated a sentencing range sentence based upon the total offense level and criminal history category. In calculating this sentencing range, the Probation Officer relied upon the Sentencing Guidelines Manual (Nov. 1, 2010) as amended by the Supplement to the 2010 Guidelines Manual. The Probation Officer arrived at a sentencing range of 46 to 57 months.
However, the Probation Officer found that the statutory mandatory minimum of 120 months applied in this case.
The Defendant filed an objection to that portion of the PSR, arguing that the FSA does indeed apply. The Probation Officer and the Government maintained that the FSA does not apply.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled that the FSA cannot apply retroactively. United States v. Bell , 624 F.3d 803, 814-815 (7th Cir. 2010).
In Bell , the defendant was convicted by a jury of distributing cocaine base and was sentenced to 292 months imprisonment. Mr. Bell appealed several evidentiary rulings made by the district court and comments made by the prosecutor. See id. at 805. The President signed the FSA into law after oral argument had taken place. Then, Mr. Bell, "who had not previously challenged any aspect of his sentence, filed a pro se ...