Thursday, December 24, 2009

Reduced Crack Guidelines Do Not Apply to Defendants Sentenced as Career Offenders

United States v. Anderson, No. 08-41314 (5th Cir. Dec. 21, 2009) (per curiam) (Higginbotham, Clement, Southwick)

Are defendants who were convicted of crack offenses and sentenced as career offenders eligible for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and U.S.S.G. §1B1.10 in the wake of the Sentencing Commission's lowering of the crack guidelines?

No, says Anderson. Such a defendant was sentenced under the career offender guideline, not the crack guidelines, and therefore "'was not sentenced based on a sentencing range that was subsequently lowered by the Sentencing Commission.'"
The crack cocaine guideline amendments do not apply to prisoners sentenced as career offenders. We note that – although this court has never published a binding decision on the issue – this year we have uniformly rejected arguments identical to Anderson’s in at least 10 persuasive unpublished decisions. The claim has no merit in either law or logic.

Incidentally, to the extent that Booker raised any question as to the standard of review applicable to a district court's decision to reduce a sentence, the opinion appears to say that it's the same as it was pre-Booker: abuse of discretion.

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