United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO REDUCE SENTENCE UNDER U.S.S.G. AMENDMENT 782
THELTON E. HENDERSON, District Judge.
Defendant James L. Beasley, Jr. was sentenced on September 3, 1991, to 360 months in prison for his role in a cocaine distribution conspiracy. He now moves to reduce his sentence, under § 1B1.10(b)(1) and Amendment 782 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which authorize a 2-level reduction in a defendant's offense level for certain drug offenses. The Court has considered Beasley's motion and reply, a submission from the Government, and multiple reports from the Probation Office. The Court finds that the Amendment applies to Beasley's sentence, and that, effective November 1, 2015, his sentence should be reduced to 312 months, for the reasons set forth below.
A. Beasley's Original Sentence
On August 26, 1991, before imposing Beasley's original sentence, the Court made several findings of fact that entered into the sentence determination. The Court rejected the presentence report's determination that Beasley had been responsible for distributing 586 kilograms of cocaine. Aug. 26, 1991 Order at 2 (Lynch, J.). Instead, the Court used three different methodologies to estimate that Beasley was responsible for between 100 and 150 kg of cocaine. Id. at 2-9. Under the Guidelines in effect at that time, Beasley received a base offense level of 36, because his offense involved at least 50 kg but less than 150 kg of cocaine. U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 2D1.1(c)(4) (Nov. 1990).
The Court also found that Beasley was a leader of the conspiracy, warranting a 4-level enhancement. Aug. 26, 1991 Order at 13. As a result, Beasley received a total offense level of 40.
The Court rejected the presentence report's determination that Beasley had a criminal history category of IV. Id. at 18. The Court found that Beasley's prior offenses were "significantly less serious than those of most defendants in the same criminal history category." Id. at 19-20. However, because Beasley had been convicted of carrying a concealed weapon and had falsified documents submitted to the DMV, the Court found that a criminal history category of I was inappropriate, as well. Id. at 20-21. The Court calculated Beasley's sentence under criminal history category II. Id. at 21.
The Guidelines range for a defendant with an offense level of 40 and a criminal history category of II was (and is) 324-405 months. U.S.S.G. Ch. 5, Pt. A. The Court imposed a sentence of 360 months. Sept. 5, 1991 Judgment.
B. Beasley's Sentence Should Be Reduced to 312 Months
A court may reduce a defendant's sentence in certain cases when the relevant sentencing range was lowered after the defendant was originally sentenced. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Application of this section requires a two-step approach: first, the court should "determine the prisoner's eligibility for a sentence modification and the extent of the reduction authorized;" then, the court should "consider any applicable § 3553(a) factors and determine whether, in its discretion, the reduction authorized... is warranted in whole or in part under the particular circumstances of the case." Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 827 (2010).
Sentencing Guidelines Amendment 782, which went into effect on November 1, 2014, reduced the offense level of most categories of drug offenses by two. As relevant here, at the time of Beasley's sentencing, the Guidelines imposed a base offense level of 36 for a cocaine offense involving at least 50 kg but less than 150 kg of cocaine, whereas now, such an offense receives a base offense level of 34. Compare U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c)(4) (Nov. 1990), with U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c)(3) (Nov. 2014). Applying the amended base offense level to Beasley's offense, along with the 4-level enhancement for his leadership role, results in a new total offense level of 38. With his criminal history category of II, Beasley's new sentencing range is 262-327 months. Beasley is eligible for a reduction.
In order to reduce a sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), a court must find that a reduction is consistent with the applicable policy statements of the Sentencing Commission and the sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2); Dillon, 560 U.S. at 826-27. In considering whether a sentence reduction is warranted, and if so, the extent of such reduction, courts must consider the danger to any person or the community, and may consider the post-sentencing conduct of the defendant. U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10, commentary. (n.1(B)(ii)-(iii)) (Nov. 2014).
Also, of particular relevance here, Amendment 782 contains a special instruction requiring any order reducing imprisonment under the Amendment to go into effect on November 1, 2015, or later. U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(e), p.s. (Nov. 2014). Moreover, "In no event may the reduced term of imprisonment be less than the term of imprisonment the defendant has already served." U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(b)(2)(C), p.s. (Nov. 2014).
The interplay of these policy statements has led to a disagreement between Beasley and the Government regarding the extent of the appropriate sentence reduction. Beasley requests a reduction to 300 months, which is the amount of time he has served as of November 2014, including his detention before sentencing. The Government, however, argues that because this Order cannot have an effective date earlier than November 1, 2015, and because the Court cannot ...