7th Circuit Reverses Dist. Court’s Refusal to Consider Re-Sentencing Based on Amendment 782 to the Guidelines

The defendant here seeks a prison sentence reduction under Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines. This Amendment reduced guideline ranges for drug quantities.

The defendant was convicted for participating in drug trafficking with the Latin Kings gang in Chicago and northwestern Indiana. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to participate in racketeering activity (18 U.S.C. § 1962(d)), conspiring to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 1000 kilograms or more of marijuana (21 U.S.C. § 846), interfering with commerce by threats or violence (18 U.S.C. § 1951), ; and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to crimes of violence and drug trafficking (18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)).

Pursuant to a plea agreement (Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(B)), he was sentenced to a total of 228 months in prison. After Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines became effective, the defendant sent a letter to district court requesting that he be appointed counsel in to later seek the two level reduction per the Amendment.

The Court denied the request, claiming it was bound by precedent. The Seventh Circuit held that this was not correct, stating that the Court had the discretion to do so. The Seventh Circuit also held that it was error for the District Court to recharacterize the request for counsel as a motion for resentencing. They found the District Court’s act to be “exceptional”.

Further, since the District Court ruled on the merits, the Seventh Circuit found that the District Court made a miscalculation in deciding how
Amendment 782 would apply to the defendant’s guideline range.

The Seventh Circuit remanded this case back to the District Court for the defendant’s chance with counsel to make his case for a sentencing reduction pursuant to Amendment 782.

The case is United States v. Guerrero, No. 19-1676 (January 7)


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