from the United States District Court for the Middle District
of Tennessee at Nashville. No. 3:09-cr-00122-1-William J.
Haynes, Jr., District Judge.
C. Small, Andrew C. Brandon, FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER,
Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellant.
William L. Deneke, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE,
Nashville, Tennessee, for Appellee.
Before: SILER, KETHLEDGE, and THAPAR, Circuit Judges.
Clardy argues that he has not waived the right to challenge
his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c), despite
explicitly waiving that right in his plea agreement. We have
rejected this argument multiple times, albeit in unpublished
opinions. The district court likewise rejected it here. We
2009, Clardy pled guilty to possessing a firearm as a
convicted felon and to possessing over 50 grams of crack
cocaine with the intent to distribute it. He agreed neither
to appeal his eventual sentence nor to challenge it under
various statutes. In particular, the relevant section of his
plea agreement (titled "Waiver of Appellate
Rights") states that Clardy "knowingly waives the
right to challenge the sentence imposed in any collateral
attack, including, but not limited to, a motion brought
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and/or § 2241, and/or
18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)."
ensuring that Clardy understood the agreement and had signed
it of his own will, the district court accepted his plea and
sentenced him to 144 months in prison. The Sentencing
Commission thereafter amended the Guidelines to reduce the
offense levels for drug crimes. Clardy then moved under
§ 3582(c)(2), which allows a court to reduce a sentence
that was based on a Guidelines range that has since been
lowered, to have those reductions applied to him. The
district court denied the motion, reasoning that Clardy had
"expressly waived his right to file a § 3582(c)
motion." Clardy now appeals.
review de novo whether Clardy has waived the right to file a
§ 3582(c) motion. See United States v. Griffin,
854 F.3d 911, 914 (6th Cir. 2017). A defendant can waive
"any right, even a constitutional right, " in a
plea agreement. Id. (internal quotation marks
omitted). Clardy does not dispute that he signed his
agreement knowingly and voluntarily. Thus the only question
is whether the agreement itself waives the right he now seeks
to assert. Id.
point the agreement could hardly be more clear. It generally
bars Clardy from "challeng[ing] the sentence imposed in
any collateral attack[.]" And it specifically forbids
him from challenging the sentence under three statutes, one
of which is § 3582(c). That the parties did not list
every type of challenge that the waiver covers-preferring
instead the shorthand reference to challenges
"including, but not limited to, " motions under
§ 2255, § 2241, and § 3582(c)-makes their
intent as to those motions all the more clear. Thus, per the
plain terms of the plea agreement, Clardy has waived his
right to file a § 3582(c) motion.
argues that the waiver is ambiguous as to § 3582(c)
motions, for three reasons. First, he argues that, because
the waiver is titled "Waiver of Appellate Rights"
and a § 3582(c) motion is not an appeal, the waiver does
not clearly cover § 3582(c) motions. That might be true
of a provision that did not mention § 3582(c) motions
specifically. Cf. United States v. Goodloe, 388
Fed.Appx. 500, 503 (6th Cir. 2010). But this provision does.
And the specific terms within the provision, not the general
title above it, control its reach. See 11
Williston on Contracts §§ 32:10, 32:15
(4th ed. 2016). For good reason: the title alone says little
about what the parties intended the provision to cover; the
terms they used to express that intent, on the other hand,
say everything. And those terms leave no doubt that the
waiver covers § 3582(c) motions.
Clardy argues that the waiver is ambiguous because it refers
to a § 3582(c) motion as a collateral attack.
Specifically, Clardy waived his right to "any collateral
attack, including . . . a motion brought pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255 and/or § 2241, and/or 18 U.S.C.
§ 3582(c)." Yet a collateral attack is normally an
attempt to overturn a sentence by filing a new lawsuit rather
than by a direct appeal. Motions under § 2255 and §
2241-both of which allow courts to overturn sentences-are
commonly referred to as collateral attacks; motions under
§ 3582(c)-which merely allows courts to reduce
sentences-are not. See Goodloe, 388 Fed.Appx. at
Clardy's conclusion does not follow. Instead this
argument suffers the same flaw as his first, namely that the
provision's intent is too clear to ignore. As we have
held multiple times, "[w]hether or not the waiver
properly classifie[s] § 3582(c) motions is
irrelevant" when a defendant expressly waives the right
to bring a § 3582(c) motion. United States v.
Bryant, 663 Fed.Appx. 420, 422 (6th Cir. 2016); see
also United States v. Shelton, 673 Fed.Appx. 524, 525
(6th Cir. 2017); United States v. Ellison, 664
Fed.Appx. 507, 509 (6th Cir. 2016). Suffice it to add here
that-especially to readers unfamiliar with the common usage
of legal terms (such as many ...