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United States of America v. Danny Leon Dixon

March 30, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DANNY LEON DIXON, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael P. McCUSKEY U.S. District Judge

E-FILED

Friday, 30 March, 2012 03:30:29 PM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

OPINION

This case is before the court for ruling on the Amended Motion to Reduce Sentence (#61) filed by Defendant, Danny Leon Dixon. After carefully considering the arguments of the parties and the applicable law, this court concludes that Defendant is eligible for a reduction in his sentence. However, this court further concludes that the reduction should be limited due to Defendant's extensive criminal history and the need to protect the public. The need to protect the public is based, in part, on Defendant's post-sentencing conduct while in prison. Accordingly, Defendant's Amended Motion to Reduce Sentence (#61) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Defendant's sentence will be reduced. However, instead of the 324 month sentence requested by Defendant, this court hereby reduces Defendant's sentence from 360 months to 348 months.

BACKGROUND

On April 4, 2003, Defendant was charged by indictment (#1) with one count of knowingly distributing five grams or more of a mixture containing cocaine base (crack), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(iii), and one count of knowingly distributing 50 grams or more of a mixture containing cocaine based (crack), in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A)(iii). On November 24, 2003, Defendant entered an open plea of guilty to both charged offenses. On April 8, 2004, a sentencing hearing was held. Defendant waived his objections to the Presentence Investigation Report and the Government then recommended a sentence at the low end of the applicable sentencing guideline range. Defendant was sentenced to a term of 360 months in the Federal Bureau of Prisons on each count, to run concurrently. Defendant appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. On January 12, 2005, while Defendant's appeal was pending, the United States Supreme Court decided United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005) and determined that the United States Sentencing Guidelines are advisory rather than mandatory.

On April 19, 2005, the Seventh Circuit ordered a limited remand of Defendant's sentence because of the Booker decision (#36). The Seventh Circuit gave this court the opportunity to determine whether it would have imposed the same sentence even if it had thought that the sentencing guidelines were merely advisory. On April 22, 2005, this court entered an Order (#37) and ordered the parties to state, in writing, a position regarding whether a different sentence would have been imposed based upon the fact that the sentencing guidelines are advisory rather than mandatory. The parties filed their Position statements (#37, #38).

On June 30, 2005, this court entered an Order (#40). This court noted that Defendant was released on bond after he was charged in this case and subsequently fled the jurisdiction. Defendant was a fugitive for several months before he was arrested in Jackson, Tennessee. This court further noted that Defendant's final offense level was 40 based upon the large amount of crack cocaine distributed by Defendant (more than 500 grams), obstruction of justice (fleeing the jurisdiction), and his aggravated role in the offense (using other individuals to distribute his drugs). Also, although Defendant pleaded guilty, he did not receive credit for acceptance of responsibility because he obstructed justice by fleeing. This court also noted that Defendant's criminal history category was VI based upon 38 criminal history points, leading to a sentencing guideline range of 360 months to life imprisonment. This court stated:

This court has considered the arguments of the parties, the advisory sentencing guidelines, the reasons for the original sentence, and the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). Based upon Defendant's criminal history and the nature of the offenses to which he pleaded guilty, this court finds that, had this court known that the guidelines were advisory, it would have imposed the same sentence. Defense counsel's attempts to minimize Defendant's criminal history, by arguing that many of the points are based upon traffic offenses, is unavailing. The Government is correct that the full account of Defendant's criminal history shows a repeated disrespect and contempt for the law. This was further exemplified by Defendant's fleeing the jurisdiction when he was out on bond in this case. This court would, therefore, adhere to its original sentence in this case.

This court therefore advised the Seventh Circuit that it would have imposed the same sentence on Defendant even if it was aware that the sentencing guidelines were merely advisory. On August 26, 2005, the Seventh Circuit issued its mandate (#41) and affirmed the judgment of this court.

MOTION TO REDUCE SENTENCE

On November 2, 2011, Defendant filed a pro se Motion to Reduce Sentence (#60) based upon the 2011 retroactive amendment to the sentencing guideline range regarding crack cocaine sentencing. This court entered a text order and appointed the Federal Defender for the Central District of Illinois to represent Defendant in this matter.

On February 28, 2012, Defendant, through counsel, filed an Amended Motion to Reduce Sentence (#61). Defendant stated that, pursuant to retroactive Amendment No. 750 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.), Defendant's base offense level has been reduced from 36 to 32. Adding the 4 levels of enhancement for obstruction of justice and aggravated role in the offense, Defendant's total offense level has been reduced from 40 to 36. Defendant stated that, with his criminal history category of VI, his new guideline sentencing range is 324 to 405 months. Defendant acknowledged that prison records document a few incidents involving Defendant while he has been incarcerated. Defendant stated that the prison has already imposed sanctions for each of these incidents. He argued that denying the benefit of a guideline adjustment based upon these incidents would result in counting the conduct against him twice. Defendant also argued that he was incarcerated in the Federal Bureau of Prisons from the age of 27 under circumstances where his cooperation was well known. Defendant argued that he "faces constant threat of death" and "has had to defend himself against attacks from other inmates in order to survive." Defendant argued that, considering the length of time he has ...


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