United States District Court, E.D. California
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO REDUCE SENTENCE PURSUANT TO 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(2) ECF No. 270
Lawrence J. O'Neill UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Jose Esquivel Mendez's
(“Defendant”) pro se motion to reduce
his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)
(“§ 3582(c)”). See ECF No. 270. By
his motion, Defendant, citing United States v.
Quintero-Leyva, 823 F.3d 519 (9th Cir. 2016), asserts
that he should benefit from Amendment 794 to the United
States Sentencing Guidelines (“USSG” or
“Guidelines”) and requests that the Court grant
him a 3-level minor role reduction and reduce his sentence.
Id. Upon review of the record in the case, including
the Probation Office's Presentence Report
(“PSR”), and the relevant law, the Court has
determined that a response from the Government is not
necessary. For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES
Defendant's motion for a sentence reduction.
1, 2009, following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of
the following counts in a second superseding indictment:
Count 1, violating 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1),
841(b)(1)(A), and 846, Conspiracy to Distribute and to
Possess with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine; Count 2,
violating 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A),
and 18 U.S.C. § 2, Possession with Intent to Distribute
Methamphetamine, and Aiding and Abetting; and Count 3,
violating 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(2), Avoidance of
Examination by Immigration Officers. PSR ¶ 1; ECF No.
to the PSR, over two kilograms of actual methamphetamine was
involved in Defendant's offense. PSR ¶ 18. Pursuant
to USSG § 2D1.1(c)(1), Defendant's base offense
level was 38, see id., the offense level was
increased by two because Defendant had willfully obstructed
or impeded the administration of justice with respect to the
investigation or prosecution of the instant offense pursuant
to USSG § 3C1.1, see id. at ¶ 22, and his
criminal history was category I (based on 0 criminal history
points). See id. at ¶ 28. The PSR did not
recommend any adjustment for Defendant's role in the
offense, stating that “while there is insufficient
information to indicate [Defendant] held an aggravating role,
it is further believed he did not hold a mitigating role, and
consequently no role adjustment is recommended.”
Id. ¶ 21. Furthermore, because Defendant had
denied the elements of the offenses, was convicted after a
jury trial, and declined to make a statement to the Probation
office, the PSR did not recommend a reduction for acceptance
of responsibility. Id. ¶ 24.
Guidelines range for a defendant with an offense level of 40
and a criminal history category 1 is 292 to 365 months of
imprisonment. See USSG Ch. 5, Pt. A. The PSR
therefore recommended a sentence of 292 months. PSR at 14.
August 28, 2009, this Court sentenced Defendant to a term of
292 months of imprisonment for all three counts. See
ECF Nos. 181 & 194 (transcript of sentencing hearing). On
September 9, 2009, Defendant appealed his conviction to the
Ninth Circuit. ECF No 189. His argument on appeal was that
his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. ECF No.
233 at 2. The Ninth Circuit affirmed Defendant's
conviction on October 5, 2011. Id.
September 17, 2012, Defendant, through counsel, filed a
motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, therein arguing
that he suffered from ineffective assistance of counsel. ECF
No. 250. The Court denied Defendant's § 2255 motion
on November 30, 2012. ECF No. 254.
October 19, 2015, Defendant filed a pro se motion to
reduce his sentence pursuant to § 3582(c)(2), therein
requesting a reduction in his sentence pursuant to Amendment
ECF No. 262. Pursuant to Eastern District of California
General Order 546, the Court appointed the Federal
Defender's Office to represent Defendant in this motion.
ECF No. 263. On November 24, 2015, the Court granted the
parties' stipulated motion to reduce Defendant's
sentence. ECF No. 265. The parties agreed that pursuant to
Amendment 782, Defendant's total offense level had been
reduced from 40 to 38, and his amended Guideline range was
now 235 to 293 months, and that Defendant was entitled to
benefit from Amendment 782. Id. at 2-3. The Court
then ordered that Defendant's sentence be reduced to a
total term of 235 months, comprised of 235 months on Counts
One and Two, and six months on Count Three, to be served
concurrently. Id. at 3; ECF No. 269.
second § 3582(c)(2) motion is now before the
Court. ECF No. 270.
federal court generally ‘may not modify a term of
imprisonment once it has been imposed.'” Dillon
v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 819 (2010). “This
baseline rule is subject to an important exception: a
district court may reduce a sentence based on a guideline
range that is later lowered by the Sentencing
Commission.” United States v.
Rodriguez-Soriano, __F.3d__, 2017 WL 1591135, at *2 (9th
Cir. May 2, 2017) (citing § 3582(c)(2)).
whether a sentence reduction is appropriate under §
3582(c)(2) “requires a two-step inquiry.”
United States v. Dunn, 728 F.3d 1151, 1155 (9th Cir.
2013). At step one, “a district court must determine
whether a prisoner is eligible for a sentence modification
under the Commission's policy statement in USSG §
1B1.10.” Id. That policy statement enumerates
a list of amendments to the Guidelines which have lowered the
sentencing ranges for certain offenses. See USSG
answer to step one is that a defendant is eligible for a
reduced sentence, the district court turns to step two of the
inquiry, where the court “must consider any applicable
§ 3553(a) factors and determine whether, in its
discretion, the reduction authorized by reference to the
policies relevant at step one is warranted in whole or in
part under the particular circumstances of the case.”
Dunn, 728 F.3d at 1155. The § 3553(a) factors
include: “the nature and circumstances of the offense
and the history and characteristics of the defendant; the
purposes of sentencing; the kinds of sentences available; the
sentences and ranges established by the Guidelines; relevant
policy statements ...