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United States v. Anderson

United States District Court, D. Kansas

May 13, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
LARRY L. ANDERSON (01), Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          DANIEL D. CRABTREE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the court on pro se[1] defendant Larry L. Anderson's “Motion for 2-Level Reductions for the Years 2007, 2011, and 2014 Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2).” Doc. 251. The government has filed a Response. Doc. 252. Mr. Anderson asserts that the Supreme Court's decision in Hughes v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 1765 (2018), entitles him to a sentence reduction. After Hughes, Mr. Anderson's Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement does not bar him from seeking a § 3582(c)(2) sentence reduction if his plea agreement was “based on” the Sentencing Guidelines. But, this is only one step in the court's analysis. Mr. Anderson is not eligible for a sentence reduction because the Sentencing Commission has not retroactively lowered the sentencing range for his offense of conviction: kidnapping resulting in death. Doc. 140. Because Mr. Anderson does not qualify for § 3582(c)(2) relief, the court dismisses his motion for lack of jurisdiction for the reasons explained, below.

         I. Facts

         On March 11, 2015, a federal grand jury indicted Mr. Anderson and two other defendants on the charge of kidnapping resulting in death under 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(2) and 2.[2] Doc. 1. Under § 1201, Mr. Anderson faced a statutory sentence of either death or life imprisonment. Doc. 181 at 1. Under the Sentencing Guidelines, Mr. Anderson's Amended Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) produced a base offense level of 43. Doc. 181 at 21. Mr. Anderson received a three-level reduction for accepting responsibility, resulting in a total offense level of 40. Id. Mr. Anderson's PSR calculated his criminal history at category II. Id. at 23. So, Mr. Anderson's resulting imprisonment range was 324-405 months. Id. at 27.

         On November 21, 2016, Mr. Anderson and the government presented a plea agreement under Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C). Doc. 140. On May 8, 2017, the court accepted the parties' plea agreement and sentenced Mr. Anderson to 336 months in prison and five years of supervised release. Doc. 187. Now, Mr. Anderson seeks a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2).

         II. Legal Standard

         A federal district court may modify a defendant's sentence only when Congress expressly has authorized it. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c); United States v. Blackwell, 81 F.3d 945, 947 (10th Cir.1996) (citations omitted). Section 3582(c) permits the court to reduce a sentence in limited circumstances. Under § 3582(c)(2), the court may reduce a sentence

in 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.

8 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). So, § 3582(c)(2) creates a two-step inquiry. United States v. Green, 886 F.3d 1300, 1306 (10th Cir. 2018) (citing Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 826-27 (2010)). First, the court must evaluate the defendant's eligibility for a sentence reduction. Id. (citing Dillon, 560 U.S. at 826-27). For example, the Guidelines prohibit the court from reducing a defendant's sentence if no retroactive amendment listed in USSG § 1B1.10(d) applies. USSG § 1B1.10(a)(2). Second, if the defendant is eligible for a sentence reduction, the court must decide whether the reduction is warranted under the factors specified by Congress in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). Id. (citing Dillon, 560 U.S. at 826-27).

         III. Discussion

         Mr. Anderson's plea agreement under Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C) does not bar him from seeking a § 3582(c)(2) sentence reduction as a matter of right. See Hughes, 138 S.Ct. at 1775- 76. But, Mr. Anderson's motion fails the first step of the § 3582(c)(2) inquiry-that is, Mr. Anderson is not eligible for a sentence reduction because the Sentencing Commission has not lowered the sentencing range for his offense of conviction: kidnapping resulting in death. And, because Mr. Anderson does not qualify for § 3582(c)(2) relief, the court lacks jurisdiction to grant the relief he has requested. The court explains its reasoning, below.

         A. After Hughes, Mr. Anderson's Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement does not bar him from seeking a § 3582(c)(2) sentence reduction if his plea agreement is “based on” the Sentencing Guidelines.

         Mr. Anderson contends that he is eligible for a two-point sentence reduction under the Sentencing Guidelines. Specifically, Mr. Anderson asserts that the Supreme Court's decision in Hughes qualifies him for a reduction under his Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement (i.e., a “Type-C” plea agreement). But, Mr. Anderson's argument only gets him partway to relief.

         Hughes does authorize federal courts to reduce a defendant's sentence-even if the sentence results from a Type-C plea agreement-if the agreement was based on a Guidelines range that would have been lower had the amendment been in effect at sentencing. And, after Hughes, it is the rule, not the exception, that Type-C plea agreements generally are “based on” the Guidelines. That is, “a sentence imposed pursuant to a Type-C agreement is ‘based on' the defendant's Guidelines range so long as that range was part of the framework the district court relied on in imposing the sentence or accepting the agreement.” Hughes, 138 S.Ct. at 1775. Because district courts first must evaluate the Type-C plea agreement in the context of defendant's Guidelines range, it is the “usual case” that “the court's acceptance of a Type-C agreement and the sentence to be imposed pursuant to that agreement are ‘based on' the defendant's Guidelines range.” I ...


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