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United States v. Quintana

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

July 11, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID QUINTANA, Defendant.

          ENTRY ON PENDING MOTIONS

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant David Quintana's (“Quintana”), pro se, Notice, in which he moves to reduce his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). (Dkt. 171.) Also pending are two Motions to Appoint Counsel. (Dkts. 192 and 194.) Quintana challenges his sentence based upon Hughes v United States, 138 S.Ct. 1765 (2018) and Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“U.S.S.G.”). For the reasons stated below, the Motions are denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On September 13, 2017, Quintana was indicted on charges of Conspiracy to Possess with the Intent to Distribute and to Distribute Controlled Substances, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 846 (Count One); Unlawful Use of a Communication Facility, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(b) (Count Four); Attempted Possession with the Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and 18 U.S.C. § 2 (Count Seven); and Felon in Possession of a Firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Count Nine). (Dkt. 28.) On July 20, 2018, he entered a plea of guilty to Count One, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(B). The parties did not agree on a specific sentence, however, the Government agreed that following the imposition of sentence, it would move for dismissal of the remaining counts. The parties stipulated and agreed that the base offense level was 32 pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(a)(5), (c)(4); the offense level increased by two levels, because a dangerous weapon was possessed in connection with the offense pursuant to U.S.S.G. 2D1.1(b)(1). The parties were free to argue the applicability of the two level, “stash house” enhancement in U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(12). If Quintana continued to accept responsibility, the Government agreed to request a three-level reduction. See U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1. The total offense level, assuming a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility would be either 33 (with stash-house enhancement) or 31 (without stash-house enhancement). The plea agreement also contained an appeal waiver provision in which Quintana agreed not to contest, or seek to modify, his conviction or sentence or the manner in which either was determined in any later legal proceeding, including an action brought under 18 U.S.C. § 3582, unless the U.S.S.G. and/or Congress in the future amends the Sentencing Guidelines to lower the guideline range that pertains to his offense and explicitly makes such an amendment retroactive. (Dkt. 113 at 12, ¶ 23.)

         Using the 2016 Sentencing Guideline Manual, the Court determined that Quintana's base offense level was 32. The Court applied both the two-level increase because a firearm was possessed in connection with the offense and for maintaining a premises for the purpose of distributing a controlled substance (the stash-house enhancement). Quintana received the three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility. His offense level was 33 and criminal history category was II, resulting in an advisory guideline range of 151 to 188 months' imprisonment. On July 20, 2018, this Court accepted Quintana's plea, and sentenced him to a term of 151 months' imprisonment. (Dkt. 151, 155.) On December 18, 2018, Quintana filed a motion under § 3582 to reduce his sentence. (Dkt. 171.) He argues that he is entitled to a sentence reduction based upon Hughes and Amendment 782, which reduced the base offense level by two levels for most drug offenses. He asks the Court to reduce his sentence from 151 months to 125 months imprisonment.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Title 18, U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), permits a court to reduce the sentence “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.” (Emphasis added.) “Eligibility depends on whether the sentence . . . is actually ‘based on' an amended Guideline range.” United States v. Jehan, 876 F.3d 891, 893 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting § 3582(c)(2)). “For a sentence to be ‘based on' a lowered Guideline range, the range must have at least played a ‘relevant part [in] the framework the [sentencing] judge used' in imposing the sentence.” Koons v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 1783, 1788 (2018)(quoting Hughes v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 1765, 1778 (2018).

         A document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro se complaint, however inartfully pled, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citations and quotation marks omitted).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Court will first address the Motion for Reduction of Sentence before turning to the requests for appointment of counsel.

         A. Motion to Reduce Sentence (Dkt. 171).

         The Government argues that Quintana's Motion fails for two reasons. First, they contend that Quintana explicitly waived his ability to seek a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582. Second, they argue that Quintana's sentence already incorporates Amendment 782 to the U.S.S.G., accordingly no additional reduction is warranted.

         Generally speaking, appeal waivers are enforceable and preclude appellate review. United States v. Worthen, 842 F.3d 552, 554 (7th Cir. 2016). The waiver in Quintana's plea agreement states as follows:

The defendant expressly agrees not to contest, or seek to modify, the defendant's conviction or sentence or the manner in which either was determined in any later legal proceeding, including but not limited to, an action brought under 18 U.S.C. § 3582 or 28 U.S.C. § 2255. As concerns this Section 3582 waiver, should the United States Sentencing Commission and/or Congress in the future amend the Sentencing Guidelines to lower the guideline range that pertains to the defendant's offense(s) and explicitly make such an amendment retroactive, the Government agrees that it will not argue that this waiver ...

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