United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR SENTENCE REDUCTION
L. Ludington United States District Judge.
April 11, 2007, Defendant Ernest T. Brown was indicted for
one count of conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of
cocaine base, two counts of distribution of 5 grams of
cocaine base, one count of possession of 5 kilograms or more
of marijuana, and six counts of using a telephone to
facilitate a conspiracy to distribute cocaine. ECF No. 1.
Defendant pleaded guilty on October 9, 2007 to Count One,
conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base.
ECF No. 22. On April 10, 2008, Defendant was sentenced to 250
months incarceration. ECF No. 36 at PageID.147. He has now
filed a motion for a reduction of his sentence pursuant to
the First Step Act of 2018. His motion will be granted.
Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 established significant penalties
for the possession and distribution of crack cocaine. The
disparity between the penalties for distributing crack
cocaine and powder cocaine was 100-to-1. As the Supreme Court
observed, the Act “imposed upon an offender who dealt
in powder cocaine the same sentence it imposed upon an
offender who dealt in one-hundredth that amount of crack
cocaine.” Dorsey v. United States, 132 S.Ct.
2321, 2326 (2012).
August 3, 2010, Congress enacted the Fair Sentencing Act.
Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372. Among other things, it
reduced the statutory minimum sentences for crack cocaine
offenses by increasing the quantity of crack cocaine
necessary to trigger the minimums-raising the amount from 5
grams to 28 grams for the 5-year minimum sentence, and from
50 grams to 280 grams for the 10-year minimum sentence.
See Fair Sentencing Act § (2)(a). It also
directed the Sentencing Commission to conform the sentencing
guidelines to the new statutory minimums. Id. §
(8)(1). The Sentencing Commission then promulgated amendments
to the guidelines, reducing the recommended sentencing ranges
to levels consistent with the Fair Sentencing Act.
See U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual App. C Amends.
750, 759 (2011).
December 21, 2018, Congress passed the First Step Act of 2018
(“FSA”). P.L. 115-391. The law permitted the
retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act and the
associated guideline ranges. Section 404 of the FSA provides.
(a) DEFINITION OF COVERED OFFENSE.-In this section, the term
“covered offense” means a violation of a Federal
criminal statute, the statutory penalties for which were
modified by section 2 or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010
(Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372), that was committed
before August 3, 2010.
(b) DEFENDANTS PREVIOUSLY SENTENCED.-A court that imposed a
sentence for a covered offense may, on motion of the
defendant, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, the
attorney for the Government, or the court, impose a reduced
sentence as if sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of
2010 (Public Law 111- 220; 124 Stat. 2372) were in effect at
the time the covered offense was committed.
(c) LIMITATIONS.-No court shall entertain a motion made under
this section to reduce a sentence if the sentence was
previously imposed or previously reduced in accordance with
the amendments made by sections 2 and 3 of the Fair
Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372)
or if a previous motion made under this section to reduce the
sentence was, after the date of enactment of this Act, denied
after a complete review of the motion on the merits. Nothing
in this section shall be construed to require a court to
reduce any sentence pursuant to this section.
P.L. 115-391, Section 404.
U.S.C. §3582 governs the reduction of a criminal
sentence and provides that a “court may not modify a
term of imprisonment once it has been imposed” except
pursuant to specific exceptions. One of these exceptions is
contained within 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(1)(B) which
The court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has
been imposed except that--the court may modify an imposed
term of imprisonment to the extent otherwise expressly
permitted by statute or by Rule ...