Thursday, January 08, 2009

No Variances in 3582(c)(2) Proceedings

US v. Dunphy: Dunphy pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute in 2003 and was sentenced to 135 months in prison, the bottom of the Guideline range. After the 2007 crack amendments to the Guidelines were made retroactive, she sought a reduction in her sentence under 18 USC 3582(c)(2). The bottom of the new Guideline range was 108 months, but Dunphy argued for a larger reduction, arguing that the district court was not limited to imposing a sentence somewhere within the new Guideline range. The district court disagreed and imposed a sentence of 108 months.

On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the sentence, concluding that the district court's authority was limited to imposing a new sentence within the newly calculated Guideline range. It rejected both of the arguments Dunphy presented arguing otherwise.

First, it rejected Dunphy's argument that under Booker, the district court must treat the Guidelines as advisory, not mandatory, in sentence reduction cases. The court noted that Booker's excision of specific parts of the sentencing statutes did not impact 3582(c)(2) and that the Guidelines were already advisory in such cases (due to the fact that a court was not required to reduce a sentence at all).

Second, it rejected Dunphy's argument that a full consideration of the 3553(a) factors was not possible with the limitations in a system in which the district court could not impose a sentence below the Guideline range.

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