United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
USA, Plaintiff: Joel S. Fauson, U.S. Attorney (Grand Rapids),
Grand Rapids, MI.
ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM INTEREST PORTION OF
GORDON J. QUIST, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
to the Court's February 11, 2015 Order, the government
has filed a response to Defendant's request that the
Court waive, or relieve Defendant from, the interest portion
of his fine. The Court requested the government to address
whether the Court has jurisdiction to modify the judgment
with regard to Defendant's interest obligation and
whether Defendant has demonstrated a material change in his
economic circumstances that might warrant waiver of the
following reasons, the Court concludes that it lacks
jurisdiction to amend Defendant's judgment to waive
interest on the fine.
September 5, 1997, the Court sentenced Defendant for
conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine
to 240 months' imprisonment, five years of supervised
release, a $25,000 fine, and a special assessment of $50. The
Court also ordered Defendant to pay the cost of his
incarceration and imposed the following payment schedule: (1)
special assessment; (2) cost of incarceration; and (3) fine
principal. All of Defendant's criminal monetary penalties
were due and payable immediately. The Court imposed interest
on the fine pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3612(f). Defendant
did not object to the imposition of interest. Interest on the
fine began to accrue on September 22, 1997. See 18
U.S.C. § 3612(f)(1).
appealed his conviction, which the Sixth Circuit affirmed.
See United States v. Brumfield, No.
97-2029, 2000 WL 263310 (6th Cir. Mar. 1, 2000). In his
appeal, Defendant did not contest the imposition of the fine
or interest. Defendant was released from incarceration on
September 11, 2014. On October 10, 2014, Defendant filed a
pro se motion requesting that he be relieved of
paying interest on the fine. Defendant's current
accrued interest obligation is approximately $22,115.24.
The authority of a district court to modify a
previously-imposed sentence is limited by statute."
United States v. Stiff, 407 Fed.Appx. 896, 898 (6th
Cir. 2011) (citing United States v. Ross, 245 F.3d
577, 586 (6th Cir. 2001)); see also United
States v. Goode, 342 F.3d 741, 743 (7th Cir. 2003)
(" Once a court sentences a criminal defendant, it has
jurisdiction to continue hearing related issues only when
authorized by statute or rule." ). A sentence that
includes a fine is deemed final, even though the " fine
can subsequently be--(1) modified or remitted under section
3573; (2) corrected under rule 35 of the Federal Rules of
Criminal Procedure and section 3742; or (3) appealed and
modified under section 3742." 18 U.S.C. § 3572(c).
Court's initial task is to identify any possible source
of authority for the post-sentence relief that Defendant
seeks. Defendant cites no statute or rule in support of his
request. The Court notes that several statutes and rules are
inapplicable to Defendant's situation. First, 18 U.S.C.
§ 3572(d)(3), which permits a court to adjust a payment
schedule or require immediate payment in full, applies only
when the court has imposed a payment schedule. " The
statute by its terms does not apply where the fine is due
immediately and in a lump sum." United States v.
Wynn, 328 Fed.Appx. 826, 828 (3d Cir. 2009); see
also United States v. Cobb, 41 Fed.Appx. 840,
841 (7th Cir. 2002) (noting that relief is available under
§ 3572(d)(3) only when a court orders payments in
installments). Because Defendant was ordered to pay his fine
immediately, he is not entitled to relief under §
3572(d)(3). Second, 18 U.S.C. § 3573, which
allows a court to remit all or part of a fine or special
assessment, including interest, provides no authority in the
instant case because " [b]y its own terms, § 3573
applies strictly to the government and not to
defendants." United States v. Mays, 13
Fed.Appx. 283 (6th Cir. 2001). Third, Rule 35 of the Federal
Rules of Criminal Procedure cannot apply because the time for
correcting an error expired long ago. Finally 18 U.S.C.
§ 3742, which applies to appeals, does not apply.
only possible statutory basis of authority for this Court to
consider Defendant's request is 18 U.S.C. §
3612(f)(3), which provides that " [i]f the court
determines that the defendant does not have the ability to
pay interest under this subsection," it may " (A)
waive the requirement for interest; (B) limit the total of
interest payable to a specific dollar amount; or (C) limit
the length of the period during which interest accrues."
Courts have reached different conclusions whether §
3612(f)(3) permits a court to grant post-sentencing relief
from interest. The decisions from the circuits are not
particularly instructive. In United States v. Goode,
342 F.3d 741 (7th Cir. 2003), the defendant, who had been
ordered to pay interest in installment payments, filed a
motion to clarify his obligation in which he argued that he
should not have to pay interest. Addressing the district
court's jurisdiction, the court concluded that the
district court had jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. §
3572(d)(3) to entertain the defendant's motion because
the district court had ordered installment payments.
Id. at 743. Nonetheless, the court concluded that
the defendant had not shown that he was entitled to relief.
It noted that the defendant's interest obligation was
mandatory and " could not be disturbed because the court
made no determination at sentencing under § 3612(f)(3)
that he was unable to pay." Id. at 744.
Although the Seventh Circuit arguably suggested that §
3612(f)(3) applies only at the time of sentencing, its
observation was not so limited. In United States v.
Coleman, 319 Fed.Appx. 228 (4th Cir. 2009), the Fourth
Circuit cited Goode for the proposition that "
§ 3612(f)(3) permits
the court, post-judgment, to waive or limit the payment of
interest upon a finding that the defendant is unable to pay
interest." Id at 230. The Coleman
court's reliance on Goode is inexplicable,
however, because Goode says nothing about §
3612(f)(3) authorizing a ...