Saturday, April 20, 2013

Crack sentence reduction permitted when district court made no specific finding of defendant’s drug relevant conduct

US v. MannConvicted in 1998 for cocaine and crack offenses, Mann had originally been sentenced according to the Sentencing Guidelines in place at that time.  Then, a defendant responsible for 1.5 kilograms of more of crack received a base offense level of 38, the highest quantity-based base offense level, no matter how much cocaine was also involved in Mann’s convictions.  Mann petitioned for a reduction in his sentence when the Sentencing Commission changed the penalties for crack offenses in 2008 and in 2011.  Pertinent to this appeal, the district court that originally sentenced Mann gave him a sentencing reduction, finding that the record did not support a finding, as the government argued, that Mann should have been held responsible for 8.4 kilograms of crack and that he should be ineligible for a sentencing reduction. 

The Fourth Circuit held that the district court did not clearly err in its decision that it made no (uncorrected) finding that Mann had been responsible for any specific amount above 1.5 kilograms of crack.  Additionally, the Government argued that the district court, at Mann’s resentencing, could make additional findings as to drug amounts, consistent with its original findings, in making a resentencing determination.  Other circuits have held that addition findings are within the district court’s discretion; however, the Fourth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by deciding not to make additional findings here, more than a decade after the original sentencing.

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