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United States v. Franklin

United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division

August 15, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF
v.
JOE L. FRANKLIN DEFENDANT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PLAINTIFF
v.
MACI DENON DAVIS and RONALD ANTONIO MOOREHEAD DEFENDANTS

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          TIMOTHY L. BROCKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Currently before the Court In the case of United States v. Franklin, 5:08-cr-50060, are:

• Defendant Joe L. Franklin's Motion to Reduce Sentence (Doc. 85) and the Government's Response (Doc. 90).

         Also before the Court in the case of United States v. Davis & Moorehead, No. 5:07-cr-50037, are:

• Defendant Maci Denon Davis's Motion to Reduce Sentence (Doc. 123) and the Government's Response (Doc. 126); and
• Defendant Ronald Antonio Moorehead's Motion to Reduce Sentence (Doc. 114) and the Government's Response (Doc. 119).

         This Memorandum Opinion and Order addresses and rules upon issues that are common to all three of these Motions. Other matters that are unique to each Motion will be ruled upon in separate Orders-each of which will be filed on the docket for the case in which its movant is a party-in accordance with this Memorandum Opinion and Order.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2010, the Fair Sentencing Act was passed by Congress and signed by the President. Sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act effectively reduced certain statutory penalties for crack-cocaine offenses, thus lowering the federal sentencing disparity between crack- and powder-cocaine crimes. See Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220, §§ 2-3, 124 Stat. 2372, 2372 (2010). Eight years later, the First Step Act of 2018 was passed and signed, enacting a wide range of various criminal-justice reforms. Among those many reforms was a provision designed to make Sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act retroactively applicable to defendants who had been sentenced before the Fair Sentencing Act became law. That provision is located in Section 404 of the First Step Act, which reads as follows:

(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 Prison, 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.

First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-391, § 404, 132 Stat. 5194, 5222 (2018).

         Defendants Franklin, Davis, and Moorehead were all sentenced in this Court for crack offenses before the Fair Sentencing Act was enacted. Now they are asking this Court to reduce their sentences under Section 404 of the First Step Act. The Government does not deny that these Defendants are eligible for sentencing relief, and it does not oppose an award of some of the relief they are requesting. But it disagrees with these Defendants on the amounts by which their sentences should be reduced, and on what type of proceedings this Court should follow when awarding them relief.

         All three of these Defendants, when originally sentenced, were found by this Court to have criminal histories that made them "career offenders" as the United States Sentencing Guidelines then defined that term; accordingly they all received enhancements under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(b) which yielded more severe advisory sentencing ranges than would have applied absent their career-offender designations. This is significant because all three Defendants contend that subsequent developments in Supreme Court and Eighth Circuit caselaw imply that they would not qualify as career offenders if that analysis were performed anew today. Thus, all three Defendants want the opportunity to challenge their career-offender designations. Specifically, each of these Defendants is seeking a complete resentencing, at a hearing where the Defendant would be physically present. At those resentencing hearings, each Defendant wants this Court to perform a complete ...


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