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United States v. Armand

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

May 18, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Patrick Armand, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued April 19, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 12 cr 400 - James B. Zagel, Judge.

          Before Bauer, Posner, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.

          Bauer, Circuit Judge.

         Patrick Armand pleaded guilty to distributing crack and powder cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), and was sentenced to 108 months' imprisonment, and a five-year term of supervised release subject to certain special conditions. On appeal we reversed, finding that the district court imposed unconstitutionally vague conditions of supervised release and failed to justify the discretionary conditions and the length of supervision. We remanded the case for a full resentencing. See United States v. Armand, 638 F.App'x 504 (7th Cir. 2016). Armand was resentenced to 104 months' imprisonment and a three-year term of supervised release. He again appeals, contending that the district court committed a host of procedural and substantive errors. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         We assume familiarity with the facts as noted in our earlier order and add only what we consider necessary for resolving the present appeal. Prior to Armand's original sentencing, the probation officer initially calculated a Guidelines range of 100 to 125 months using the 2013 United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines, based on a total offense level of 25 and a criminal-history category of V. However, the parties later agreed that Amendment 782 applied, see U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1, amend. 782, which decreased the total offense level to 23 with the Guidelines range of 84 to 105 months.

         At his original sentencing hearing, the court accepted the probation officer's revised Guidelines range calculation. Armand acknowledged multiple times during the hearing that the applicable Guidelines range was 84 to 105 months. He contended that the court should depart downward to impose a sentence that would apply if the crack and powder cocaine Guidelines reflected a one-to-one ratio, rather than the eighteen-to-one ratio currently used; the court declined to do so. Ultimately, the court imposed a sentence of 108 months' imprisonment and five years of supervised release.

         On remand, the government's resentencing memorandum calculated the Guidelines range as 84 to 105 months based upon the November 2015 Guidelines. Armand's resentencing memorandum did not dispute the applicable Guidelines range, but reiterated his argument regarding the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. He also raised arguments regarding the length and proposed conditions of his supervised release, an issue he does not raise in this appeal. Finally, he contended that the district court failed to consider mitigating factors, such as his background and mental health issues.

         At the resentencing hearing, Armand's counsel reiterated his mitigation arguments, and also contended that his age put him at a lower risk for recidivism. His counsel also highlighted affirmative steps he had taken in prison to improve himself, such as enrolling in classes related to employment, substance abuse, and anger management. Finally, his counsel asked the court to depart downward from the crack cocaine Guidelines due to the disparity with powder cocaine Guidelines. In response, the government challenged the correlation between Armand's long criminal history and his unsubstantiated claim of mental illness. It also rejected his contention that he presented a low risk of recidivism.

         The court discussed the sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). Specifically, the court addressed Armand's history and characteristics, as well as the need for the sentence imposed to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct, promote respect for the law, and provide correctional treatment. Prior to imposing Armand's sentence, the government stated that the applicable Guidelines range was 84 to 105 months, and that Armand's vacated sentence was 108 months. The court sentenced Armand to 104 months' imprisonment and three years of supervised release, explaining that it was reducing his sentence by a few months in recognition of the effort Armand undertook to improve his life while imprisoned.

         The court addressed Armand's mitigation arguments, expressing skepticism that mental health treatment and his age would lower his risk of recidivism. The court also stated that its position on the crack cocaine Guidelines had not changed since the original sentencing hearing, and declined to decrease the ratio. The court then confirmed that the applicable Guidelines range was 84 to 105 months. Armand's counsel acknowledged that the court had addressed all his principal mitigation arguments. The court then entered final judgment, and Armand timely appealed.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Armand contends that the district court failed to calculate the advisory Guidelines range and treated the Guidelines as presumptively reasonable. Finally, he argues that the court gave inadequate consideration ...


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