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United States v. Smoot

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

June 10, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
DONALD SMOOT

ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.

Defendant Donald Smoot has moved the Court to reduce his sentence based on a recent amendment to the United States Sentencing Guidelines. For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants the motion [661] in part and reduces Defendant's sentence from 188 months to 140 months in prison.

LEGAL STANDARD

Defendant seeks a reduction in his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). Section 3582(c)(2) provides:

The court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed except that... in the case of a defendant who 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), upon motion of the defendant or the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, or on its own motion, the court may reduce the term of imprisonment, after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to the extent that they are applicable, if such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.

Section 3582(c)(2) authorizes a court to reduce a defendant's sentence only when the Sentencing Guidelines range has changed and the defendant's existing sentence exceeds the low end of the newly calculated range. See United States v. Guyton, 636 F.3d 316 (7th Cir. 2011).

On April 30, 2014, the Sentencing Commission promulgated Amendment 782 which reduced the Guidelines applicable to the Drug Quantity Table by two levels. On July 18, 2014, the Commission voted to make Amendment 782 retroactive to previously sentenced defendants. The Amendment became effective on November 1, 2014. The Commission also specifically noted that a "court shall not order a reduced term of imprisonment based on Amendment 782 unless the effective date of the court's order is November 1, 2015, or later." U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 1B1.10(e)(1) (2014).

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Defendant Smoot pled guilty to Count One of the Superseding Indictment pursuant to a written plea agreement. Specifically, he pled guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute heroin. On July 14, 2011, the Court sentenced Defendant to 188 months in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons. In sentencing Defendant, the Court found him responsible for approximately 5 kilograms of heroin. Defendant's base offense level therefore was a 34. He also received a two level enhancement for possession of a firearm, and a three level reduction for timely acceptance of responsibility. Defendant's combined offense level was 33, his criminal history category II, and his applicable guideline range was 151 to 188 months imprisonment.

ANALYSIS

Defendant seeks to reduce his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) based on the 2008 Amendments to the Guidelines, namely, the amendment to Section 2D 1.1. As noted above, Section 3582(c)(2) provides:

The court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed except that... in the case of a defendant who 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), upon motion of the defendant or the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, or on its own motion, the court may reduce the term of imprisonment, after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to the extent that they are applicable, if such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.

As the Supreme Court explained in Dillon v. United States, 130 S.Ct. 2683, 2688 (2010), district courts must follow a two-step approach when determining whether a reduction is appropriate under Section 3582(c)(2):

A court must first determine that a reduction is consistent with § 1B1.10 before it may consider whether the authorized reduction is warranted, either in whole or in part, ...

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