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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today

In U.S. v. Young (ND Ind., Judge Moody), an 11-page opinion, Judge Sykes writes:

Victor Young pleaded guilty in 2001 to possessing crack cocaine with intent to distribute. In 2007 the United States Sentencing Commission retroactively amended the crack cocaine sentencing guidelines, and Young asked the district court to appoint counsel for purposes of pursuing a motion to reduce his sentence based on that amendment. See 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). The court appointed counsel, the motion was filed, and the government agreed that a sentence reduction was appropriate.

The district court, however, declined to reduce Young’s sentence. The judge’s decision was based in part on the contents of an addendum to the presentence report prepared at the court’s request in connection with Young’s motion. The addendum reported that Young had been sanctioned for more than a dozen incidents of misconduct while in prison. The judge thought this reflected poorly on Young’s rehabilitation and indicated he would be a danger to the community if his sentence was reduced.

On appeal, Young challenges the process the district court used to decide the § 3582(c)(2) motion. He argues that if the court intended to rely on the new information about his record of prison infractions, he should have been given notice and an opportunity to contest it. We decline to impose the sort of procedural rule Young suggests is required in this context. The district court has substantial discretion to determine how it will evaluate a § 3582(c)(2) motion and whether to grant a sentence reduction. Here, Young had access to the addendum four days before filing his motion and could have addressed the information about his prison behavioral record in his initial submission to the court. Under these circumstances, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the sentence-reduction motion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 12, 2009 12:13 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions