« Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 6 NFP) [1 opinion and 6 memorandum decisions] | Main | Law - "Governments Making It Easier for Citizens to Know the Law " »

Friday, January 30, 2015

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case Jan. 29th

In USA v. Bailey (SD Ind., Lawrence), a 7-page opinion, Judge Hamilton writes:

Anthony Bailey pled guilty in 2011 to distributing crack cocaine. He pled guilty under a binding plea agreement subject to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) and agreed to a prison sentence of 240 months. The agreement, however, allowed Bailey to seek to modify his sentence if Congress or the Supreme Court later determined that the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372, should apply to cases like his.

The district court accepted the plea agreement and imposed the 240-month sentence. Bailey did not appeal, but the Supreme Court then decided Dorsey v. United States, 132 S. Ct. 2321 (2012). Dorsey reversed a decision of this court and held that the FSA should apply to cases where the crimes were committed before the FSA took effect but sentence was imposed after it took effect. Bailey falls into this category. By then the time to file a direct appeal had expired, and in 2013 Bailey filed a pro se motion asking for a reduced sentence. The district court appointed counsel who supplemented Bailey’s motion. The court eventually denied relief using a form order designed for motions under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), which authorizes reductions of sentences when the Sentencing Commission has retroactively amended a relevant sentencing guideline. Bailey has appealed.

The principal challenge for both counsel and the courts here has been to identify the correct procedural vehicle for considering Bailey’s request for relief. We conclude that Bai-ley’s motion is best understood as a petition for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 for a sentence that was imposed contrary to law. The parties negotiated Bailey’s sentence under the im-pression that he was subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years because he committed the crimes before the FSA’s enactment. It is now clear that he was subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of only 10 years. Without consideration of any statutory minimum, Bailey’s guideline range when he was sentenced would have been 85 to 104 months in prison. We express no view on what an appropriate sentence would be. In light of the parties’ reservation of Bailey’s right to seek relief from the sentence, however, the best remedy is simply a new sentencing hearing. * * *

The district court’s denial of Bailey’s motion is reversed and the case is remanded with instructions to grant Bailey relief under § 2255 by vacating his sentence and holding a new sentencing hearing.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 30, 2015 11:47 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions