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United States v. Taylor

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 6, 2015



MICHAEL J. REAGAN, Chief District Judge.

Sentenced by Judge William L. Beatty (who is now deceased) in November 1996, Anthony Dawon Taylor (Defendant) filed a pro se motion for a sentence reduction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2) and Amendment 782 to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. The undersigned appointed Assistant Federal Public Defender Daniel Cronin to review the pro se motion and either supplement the filing or, if Mr. Cronin concluded there was no valid basis on which a sentence reduction could be granted, move to withdraw as defense counsel.

On May 17, 2015, Mr. Cronin moved to withdraw, explaining that there was no non-frivolous ground on which to advocate for an Amendment 782 sentence reduction, because Defendant was sentenced as a career offender, and no Amendment 782 relief was possible.[1]

The Court entered an Order (a) directing Defendant to show cause why the Court ought not grant Cronin's motion to withdraw and deny Defendant's pro se motion to reduce sentence, and (b) directing Plaintiff USA to weigh in on the issue. Defendant responded on June 5, 2015 (Doc. 60). The USA responded on June 23, 2015 (Doc. 62).

The USA agreed with Cronin's assessment that the career offender Guideline was applied in Defendant's sentencing (he had two predicate qualifying felony convictions) and that Defendant was not eligible for Amendment 782 reduction. But the USA noted some confusion in the record as to the issue of whether Defendant was sentenced under U.S.S.G. 2D1.1 or U.S.S.G. 4B1.1 - confusion which could be resolved by reviewing the sentencing transcript. The USA offered to obtain the transcript (from the Federal Records Center) and file a supplemental response. The undersigned set an August 21, 2015 deadline for the USA to file the supplemental response.

On July 2, 2005, the Clerk's Office of this Court received a letter from Defendant dated a week earlier. Direct contact by a party (including a defendant in a closed criminal case) with the Judge is improper ex parte communication. Requests for relief must be presented via motion, with copies provided to opposing counsel. And, as a general rule, such motions should be filed only through counsel, not pro se by a party who has an attorney.

Here, however, Mr. Cronin has moved to withdraw, and the Court awaits the USA's supplemental response on that motion. So the Court will permit Defendant's letter to be docketed as a pro se motion to stay. The letter/motion asks the Court to "hold in abeyance" (that is, stay) resolution of Defendant's Amendment 782 motion to reduce sentence, pending the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. United States . The Court DENIES the motion to stay pending that ruling, because the Johnson opinion was handed down on June 26, 2015. See Johnson v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 2015 WL 2473450 (June 26, 2015) (holding that an increased sentence under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act is unconstitutional). The decision in Johnson does not warrant staying resolution of Defendant's pro se Amendment 782 motion.[2]

However, the Court DIRECTS both attorney Cronin and counsel for the USA to file a short memo by August 21, 2015 stating their respective positions on whether - assuming Johnson has retroactive application - Defendant would qualify for any sentence reduction via 18 U.S.C. 3582.


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