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United States v. Holley-Chambers

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

January 4, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CARWIN JERMAINE HOLLEY-CHAMBERS

          OPINION AND ORDER

          William C. Lee United States District Judge

         Carwin Jermaine Holley-Chambers (“Holley-Chambers”) is currently serving an 84 month sentence for possession with intent to distribute more than five grams of crack, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). He now moves this Court to reduce his sentence pursuant to Amendment 782 of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual (“USSG”) and 18 U.S.C. § 3582. [DE 77]. The Government opposes Holley-Chambers's petition asserting that he was sentenced pursuant to the terms of a binding plea agreement and, under the Seventh Circuit's interpretation of the holding in Freeman v. United States, __ U.S. __, 131 S.Ct. 2685, 180 L.Ed.2d 519 (2011), this fact alone bars the relief sought. After reviewing Holley-Chamber's petition, the Government's response and the applicable case law, the Court sought further briefing related to the specific language in Lamb's plea agreement. The parties completed briefing on December 9, 2015.

         For the following reasons, the Court concludes that because Holley-Chambers was sentenced pursuant to a binding plea agreement, the terms of which do not expressly or impliedly indicate that the sentencing guidelines range (which might subsequently be lowered) were a factor in the determination of the binding sentence, Holley-Chambers's motion for reduction will be DENIED.

         DISCUSSION

         a. General Governing Principles

         On April 30, 2014, the U.S. Sentencing Commission submitted to Congress Amendment 782 of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, proposing a downward revision to the applicable sentencing ranges for drug trafficking offenses. On November 1, 2014, Amendment 782 and its retroactive application became effective; however, the Commission required that any sentence reduction based on these amendments not take effect until November 1, 2015.

         Section 3582(c)(2) provides that:

[I]n 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.

         Thus, §3582(c)(2) allows the Court to reduce a previously imposed sentence where a defendant “has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission” retroactively. United States v. Taylor, 778 F.3d 667, 672 (7th Cir.2015).

         Guideline § 1B1.10(a) provides that:

In a case in which a defendant is serving a term of imprisonment, and the guideline range applicable to that defendant has subsequently been lowered as a result of an amendment to the Guidelines Manual listed in subsection (d) below, the court may reduce the defendant's term of imprisonment as provided by 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). As required by 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), any such reduction in the defendant's term of imprisonment shall be consistent with this policy statement.

U.S.S.G §1B1.10(a)(2014). As noted above, the relevant amendment here is Amendment 782, which revises the Drug Quantity Table in USSG § 2D1.1, and reduces the offense level applicable to certain drug offenses by two levels. See United States v. Hairston, No. 1:00-CR-00042, 2015 WL 3439227, at *1 (N.D.Ind. May 28, 2015).

         b. Application to Binding Plea Agreements

         As noted initially, Holley-Chambers was sentenced to 84 months imprisonment pursuant to the terms of a binding plea agreement as set forth in Fed.R.Crim.P. 11(c)(1)(C). In Freeman v. United States, __ U.S. __, 131 S.Ct. 2685, 180 L.Ed.2d 519 (2011), the Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether a criminal defendant who enters into a plea agreement that recommends a particular sentence as a ...


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