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United States v. Dixie

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

May 1, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
SOWANDE DIXIE

OPINION AND ORDER

RESA L. SPRINGMANN, District Judge.

Defendant Sowande Dixie was originally sentenced by this Court on April 20, 2009. The Government and the Defendant have now filed a Joint Motion for Reduction of Sentence [ECF No. 91], pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582. In the Joint Motion, the parties request that the Court reduce the Defendant's 70 month term of imprisonment for his drug offense to 60 months.

BACKGROUND

The Defendant was convicted of possessing with intent to distribute crack cocaine (Count One), and of carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime (Count Two). The Presentence Investigation Report, which was adopted by the Court at the time of sentencing, reported that the Defendant's offense involved 31 grams of crack cocaine. This amount was supported by the arresting officer's report that the total bag weight of the drugs was field tested to be 31 grams. As a result of the amount of drugs and Specific Offense Characteristics, the Defendant's Total Offense Level under the Guidelines was 23. Based on his Criminal History Category of IV and Total Offense Level of 23, the sentencing guideline range was 70 to 87 months. The Court sentenced the Defendant to the low end of the guideline range, 70 months. For Count Two, the Defendant was subject to a mandatory sentence of 60 months to be served consecutively to the term of imprisonment for Count One.

According to the Joint Motion, the total net weight of the cocaine base crack was in fact 24.46 grams, as indicated by an April 8, 2009, Certificate of Analysis from the Indiana State Police Laboratory Division, presented to the Court in conjunction with the Joint Motion. The Defendant's base offense level for 24.46 grams of crack cocaine would have been 24 instead of 26, and the Guideline reductions would have resulted in a Total Offense Level of 21 and an imprisonment range of 57 to 71 months. The parties request a reduction in the Defendant's sentence on the drug offense to the statutory mandatory minimum that was in effect at the time of his sentence, 60 months. They maintain that the Defendant's mandatory sentence of 60 months on the firearm offense would continue to run consecutive.

ANALYSIS

Subject-matter jurisdiction is the court's statutory authority or constitutional power to adjudicate a case.'" [ United States v. ] Lawrence, 535 F.3d [631, ] 636 [(7th Cir. 2008)] (quoting Steel Co. v. Citizens for Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 89 (1998); citing United States v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 625, 630 (2002)). "It delineat[es] the classes of cases... falling within a court's adjudicatory authority." Id. (quoting Eberhart v. United States, 546 U.S. 12, 16 (2005)).

United States v. Davis, 682 F.3d 596, 610 (7th Cir. 2012) (parallel citations omitted). District courts have limited power to revisit sentences after they are imposed. United States v. Goode, 342 F.3d 741, 743 (7th Cir. 2003). Once a district court sentences a criminal defendant, it lacks jurisdiction to continue to hear related issues, except to the extent authorized by statute or rule. Id.

A. Section 3582

The parties have filed their Joint Motion "pursuant to the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3582." (Joint Mot. ¶ 1, ECF No. 91.) Section 3582(c) outlines a few exceptions to the prohibition on modifying a term of imprisonment once it is imposed. "The court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed except" upon motion of the Director of the BOP where certain factors are present, "to the extent otherwise expressly permitted by statute or by Rule 35, " or in accordance with a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c); see also Dillon v. United States, 130 S.Ct. 2683, 2690 (2010) (noting that § 3582(c)(2) creates "an exception to the general rule of finality").

The Director of the BOP has not filed a motion with this Court. Rule 35(a) permits correction of a sentence that "resulted from arithmetical, technical, or other clear error" if the district court acts "[w]ithin 14 days after sentencing." Rule 35 also allows a court to reduce a sentence to reward post-sentencing substantial assistance to the prosecution in investigating or prosecuting another person. Fed. R. Crim. P. 35(b). Those circumstances are not present here. Nor was the Defendant sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered. The Defendant's base offense level was set at 26 pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c)(7), which applied to amounts of cocaine base between 28 and 112 grams. Today, § 2D1.1(c)(7) still applies to between 28 and 112 grams of cocaine base. The Court finds no authority in § 3582 to reduce the Defendant's sentence under the circumstances presented in the Joint Motion.

Although relief is not available to the Defendant through § 3582, it is the substance of a motion, not its label, that controls how a request for relief is treated. United States v. Carraway, 478 F.3d 845, 848 (7th Cir. 2007). Thus, any post-judgment motion in a criminal proceeding that fits the description of a motion to correct a sentence as set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 2255 should be treated as a request for relief under that statute Id.

B. Section 2255

Section 2255 permits a federal prisoner to attack his sentence on the ground that "the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Defendants have a due process right to be sentenced on the basis of accurate information. United States v. Tucker, 404 U.S. 443, 447 (1972). Relief may be granted where the information before the sentencing court ...


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