Tuesday, September 15, 2009

U.S. v. Chaney, No. 08-10298 (9-15-09). Defendant asked the district court for a reduced sentence based upon the change in crack guidelines. The defendant had received a 103 month sentence rather than a 235 month sentence based on cooperation. The plea was a stipulation, in which the government had argued for the sentence against a PSR that had higher guidelines because the government felt a 9-year sentence was appropriate. The district court exercised its discretion and denied the motion for reduction. On appeal, the defendant argued that the district court could not just exercise discretion, but should be required to conduct a two-step analysis: what would the sentence have been if the amended guidelines were in effect; and then should the sentence be reduced. The 9th (Hawkins joined by Hug and B. Fletcher) rejected the two-step framework as not being required by the plain language of 18 U.S.C. 3582(c). The court had to simply determine if the amendment had reduced a sentence, look at the 3553 factors, and exercise discretion. The court did not have to recalcitrate the sentence it would have given then. In this case, the court exercised its discretion in looking at the original sentence and the reasons and its decision not to reduce the sentence was affirmed.


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