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United States v. Stevenson

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

April 23, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CARL STEVENSON, Defendant-Appellant

Argued February 19, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 1:97-cr-00510 -- Elaine E. Bucklo, Judge.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Madeleine S. Murphy, Office of The United States Attorney, Chicago, IL.

For Carl Stevenson, Defendant - Appellant: Standish E. Willis, Chicago, IL.

Before POSNER, RIPPLE, and KANNE, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 668

Kanne, Circuit Judge.

Carl Stevenson has twice sought a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c), citing the retroactive changes to the crack cocaine offense guidelines. The district court granted his first motion but denied his second because further reduction would bring his sentence below the guidelines sentence imposed on career offenders like Stevenson. It would, however, contradict the Sentencing Commission's policy statements to sentence Stevenson below the applicable career offender guideline. We affirm the decision below.

I. Background

In 1998, a jury found Stevenson guilty on various counts relating to his possession of crack cocaine in connection with a Chicago drug ring. The district court sentenced Stevenson based on the Sentencing Guidelines (this was pre-Booker, so the court treated the Guidelines as mandatory). Stevenson's offense level was 35 and his criminal history category was VI, making his Guidelines range 292-365 months. He also qualified as a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, which would have

Page 669

made his offense level 34 had he not already exceeded it. The court imposed a 292-month sentence.

In 2010, Stevenson filed his first § 3582(c) motion, based on Amendment 706 to the Guidelines. The district court granted the motion on March 29, 2011, reducing Stevenson's sentence to 262 months' imprisonment. This reduced sentence reflected the low end of the sentencing range for an offense level of 34 and criminal history category of VI. To reach this reduced sentence, the district court found that Stevenson's base offense level became 30. Applying the same enhancements the initial sentencing court had applied, Stevenson's total offense level became 33. But since this fell below the relevant career offender offense level, the court found that Stevenson's proper offense level was 34.

Stevenson later filed a second ยง 3582(c) motion, based on Amendment 750. The district court denied the motion because Stevenson was a ...


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