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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case yesterday, with limited remand

In UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. TONY CURRIE (SD Ind., Barker), a 14-page opinion, Judge Rovner writes:

Defendant-Appellant Tony Currie pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846, and possessed a firearm following a felony conviction, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). The district court ordered him to serve a prison term of 121 months, at the low end of the range advised by the Sentencing Guidelines and just above what the court and the parties believed to be the statutory minimum prison term of ten years. Currie appeals, contending that the district court erroneously denied his motion to suppress evidence without conducting an evidentiary hearing and that its choice of sentence was premised on its mistaken understanding that the new, lower mandatory minimums specified by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 did not apply at Currie’s sentencing. We find no error in the district court’s decision to deny Currie’s motion to suppress without an evidentiary hearing. As to his sentence, we order a limited remand for purposes of ascertaining whether the district court would be inclined to sentence Currie differently knowing that Currie is subject to the lower statutory minimum term of five years as provided by the FSA. * * *

The district judge’s remarks at sentencing give us no indication that she ever considered the possibility that a lower statutory minimum might apply to Currie (recall that Currie did not challenge the applicability of the ten-year minimum term below), nor do they include an unambiguous statement to the effect that the judge would have considered the 121- month sentence it imposed reasonable even if the five-year minimum specified by the Fair Sentencing Act applied, as we now know (in hindsight) that it does.

We therefore order a limited remand so that the district judge may consider, and state on the record, whether she would have imposed the same sentence on Currie knowing that he was subject to a five-year rather than a ten-year statutory minimum term of imprisonment. We shall retain jurisdiction over this appeal pending the district court’s answer to our inquiry. AFFIRMED IN PART and REMANDED

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 8, 2014 08:20 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions