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United States v. Jackson

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

October 25, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
KEENAN L. JACKSON, Defendant.

          OPINION

          RICHARD MILLS, United States District Judge:

         Pending is Defendant Keenan L. Jackson's motion to reduce sentence under the Section 404(b) of the First Step Act.

         As directed, the Government has filed a response.

         I.

         The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 amended 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) and (b)(1)(B) to increase the amount of crack cocaine a violation of § 841(a) must involve in order to trigger mandatory minimum and accompanying statutory maximum sentences set forth in §§ 841(b)(1)(A) and (B). Prior to the Fair Sentencing Act, an offense involving at least 50 grams of crack cocaine triggered a 10-year mandatory minimum and a statutory maximum penalty of life imprisonment, while an offense involving 5 grams of crack cocaine triggered a 5- year mandatory minimum and a statutory maximum of 40 years imprisonment. See Dorsey v. United States, 567 U.S. 260, 266 (2012); 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)(iii), (B)(iii) (2006 ed.).

         Following the enactment of the Fair Sentencing Act, it takes 280 grams of crack to trigger § 841(b)(1)(A)(iii)'s 10-year mandatory minimum and 28 grams of crack to trigger § 841(b)(1)(B)(iii)'s 5-year mandatory minimum. See Dorsey, 567 U.S. at 269. The Supreme Court determined that the Fair Sentencing Act applied to any defendant who was sentenced after August 3, 2010. See id. at 281. It did not apply retroactively to defendants sentenced prior to that date. See id.

         Section 404 of the First Step Act makes the changes to § 841(b)(1)(A)(iii) and (B)(iii) by section 2 of the Fair Sentencing Act retroactive. Specifically, § 404(a) defines a covered offense as a “violation of a Federal criminal statute, the statutory penalties for which were modified by section 2 or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372), that was committed before August 3, 2010.” Section 404(b) of the First Step Act states “[a] court that imposed a sentence for a covered offense may . . . impose a reduced sentence as if sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 were in effect at the time the covered offense was committed.” Section 404(c) includes two limitations on the Court's authority to impose a reduced sentence, neither of which is applicable in this case.

         II.

         Following the Defendant's guilty plea to possession of more than 50 grams of crack cocaine with intent to distribute and based on a prior felony drug conviction, the Defendant faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment and a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)(iii). The Defendant was sentenced to 262 months' imprisonment followed by 10 years' supervised release.

         Because the Defendant's offense involved at least 50 grams of crack cocaine, the penalty for his conviction was set by § 841(b)(1)(A). Following the enactment of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, it takes 280 grams of crack cocaine to trigger the 10-year mandatory minimum sentence. The Defendant's offense was committed before August 3, 2010, and it is therefore a covered offense as defined in § 404(a) of the First Step Act. Therefore, the Court may “impose a reduced sentence as if sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 were in effect at the time the covered offense was committed.” The Government states that while the Court may be authorized to reduce the Defendant's sentence under Section 404 of the First Step Act of 2018, the Court is not required to reduce his sentence. Because the sentencing guidelines have not changed, the Government claims the Court should not reduce the sentence.

         III.

         The Defendant's offense involved 50.2 grams of crack. Under the reduced penalties of the Fair Sentencing Act, the Defendant would be facing a mandatory 5-year term and 40-year statutory maximum. Because a § 851 notice of prior conviction was filed, those penalties are increased to a mandatory minimum of 10 years and maximum of life.

         In his motion, the Defendant notes that his career offender status is based on a prior conviction for possessing less than one gram of crack and less than 10 grams of marijuana when he was 18, and a robbery conviction in which the offense was committed two months later. Based on a statutory maximum of life, his guideline range was 262 months to 327 months' imprisonment.

         Because of the Government's filing of the § 851 notice, the Defendant's statutory maximum remains life which means that his career offender guideline range remains the same. However, the Defendant notes that the one change since the Defendant was ...


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