United States District Court, E.D. California
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO REDUCE SENTENCE UNDER U.S.S.G. AMENDMENT 782 (DOC.
LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Defendant Jorge Luis Berazas-Barron's
pro se motion to reduce his sentence (Doc. 32),
under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and Amendment 782
(“the Amendment”) to the United States Sentencing
Guidelines,  which revised the Drug Quantity Table in
§ 2D1.1 and reduced by two levels the offense level
applicable to many drug trafficking offenses. The Federal
Defender's Office declined to supplement the motion.
See Doc. 80. The Government has opposed the motion
on the basis that the Defendant is not eligible for a
reduction under § 3582(c)(2). See Doc. 33. Upon
a thorough review of the parties' briefing, the record in
the case including the Probation Office's Presentence
Investigation Report (“PSR”), and the relevant
law, the Court will deny the motion.
Berazas-Barron pleaded guilty to count one, 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), possession with the intent
to distribute methamphetamine. See Docs. 30, 31.
Accepting the PSR determination, the Court found a base
offense level of 38 (for the amount of methamphetamine
involved the case), and a criminal history category of I
(based on 0 criminal history points). See PSR ¶
11 (drugs attributed to Defendant were more than 4.5
kilograms of actual methamphetamine); See PSR ¶
27. Pursuant to §§ 3E1.1(a) and (b),
Defendant's acceptance of responsibility warranted a
three-level reduction. Id. ¶ 21, 22. Pursuant
to § 2D1.1(b)(16), Defendant's special offense
characteristics warranted a two level reduction, for an
adjusted total offense level of 33. Id. ¶ 15.
The Guidelines range for a defendant with an offense level of
33, and a criminal history category of I, was 135 to 168
months imprisonment. U.S.S.G. Ch. 5, Pt. A.
March 7, 2014, the Court applied a downward departure based
on the § 3553(a), and imposed a sentence of 120 months
and a mandatory $100 penalty assessment. See Docs.
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) (quoting 18
U.S.C. § 3582(c)). However, a federal sentencing court
is authorized to modify an imposed sentence when the relevant
sentencing range was lowered subsequent to a defendant's
original sentence. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2); see
United States v. Dunn, 728 F.3d 1151, 1155 (9th Cir.
2013) (a district court may do so “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.”). Effective
November 1, 2014, the Commission promulgated Amendment 782,
which generally revised the Drug Quantity Table and chemical
quantity tables across drug and chemical types. The
Commission also voted to make the Amendment retroactively
applicable to previously sentenced defendants. See
U.S.S.G., sup. App'x C, amend. 788 (2014); United
States v. Navarro, 800 F.3d 1104, 1107 (9th Cir. 2015).
Berazas-Barron requests a reduction in his sentence under
Amendment 782, enumerated in U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(d).
Berazas-Barron argues that under the Amendment, he is
entitled to a reduction in sentence based on his nonviolent,
low level role in the underlying offense as well as his
rehabilitation efforts. Doc. 32 at 2.
whether a sentence reduction is appropriate under §
3582(c)(2) “requires a two-step inquiry.”
Dunn, 728 F.3d at 1155. At step one, “a
district court must determine whether a prisoner is eligible
for a sentence modification under the Commission's policy
statement in U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10.” Id. That
policy statement enumerates a list of amendments to the
Guidelines which have lowered the sentencing ranges for
certain offenses. See U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(d). In
the event that one of the enumerated amendments has lowered a
guideline range applicable to a defendant, the district court
“shall determine the amended guideline range that would
have been applicable to the defendant if the amendment(s) . .
. had been in effect at the time the defendant was
sentenced.” U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(b)(1).
answer to step one is that the 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 (internal quotation marks and
citation omitted). 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 issued by the Sentencing Commission; the need to
avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities among similarly
situated defendants; and the need to provide restitution to
victims.” Id. at 1158 (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted).
initial inquiry is whether Defendant is eligible for a
sentence reduction. The Court's authority to modify a
sentenced is constrained by the Sentencing Commission.
Dillon, 560 U.S. at 825-26. Moreover, § 3582
permits reduction of a sentence only where “such a
reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements
issued by the Sentencing Commission.” Pursuant to
§ 1B1.10(a)(2)(13), “[a] reduction in the
defendant's term of imprisonment is not consistent with
this policy statement and therefore is not authorized under
18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) if . . . an amendment listed in
subsection (c) does not have the effect of lowering the
defendant's applicable guideline range.” §
case, the Court does not have the authority to modify the
Defendant's sentence. Dillon, 560 U.S. at
825-26. Although the Amendment reduces by two the base
offense levels for most drug offenders, Defendant
misapprehends the effect this has on his sentence. Amendment
782, § 1B1.10. The Amendment does not lower the base
offense level for defendants who possessed over 4.5 kilograms
of actual methamphetamine. Amendment 782, § 1B1.10.
Here, the amount of drugs attributed to Defendant's crime
is in excess of 4.5 kilograms, an amount greater than the
minimum set to qualify a person for the highest base offense
level. PSR ¶ 6, 14; § 2D1.1. As a result,
Defendant's base offense level remains at 33, with a
criminal history category of I. The applicable sentence
guideline range remains 121 to 151 months, the same as the
previous range applicable to his case before Amendment 782
took effect. In sum, Amendment 782 has not reduced the
Guideline range applicable in the Defendant's case.
the application of the Amendment does not have the effect of
lowering Defendant's applicable guideline range, the
Court lacks authority under § 1B1.10(a)(2)(B) to modify
Defendant's sentence. See, e.g., United
States v. Leniear, 574 F.3d 668, 673-74 (9th Cir. 2009)
(the final sentencing range was unchanged due to the
operation of the grouping rules). Therefore, the answer at
step one is that Defendant does not qualify for a sentence
reduction. To the extent that the movant asks the Court to
reduce his sentence based on the § 3553(a) factors
considered at step two, the Court declines. As the answer ...