United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Michael F. Urbanski, Chief United States District Judge.
Jermaine Lee Hall filed a motion to reduce his sentence
pursuant to die First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-015.
He asks that his sentence be reduced from 144 mondis to 116
mondis, which may result in his immediate release. ECF No.
78. The government does not contest diat Hall is eligible for
a reduction in his sentence, and agrees diat his sentence
should be modified to 116 mondis followed by a 3-year term of
supervised release. The government asks diat if a reduction
in Hall's sentence results in his immediate release, that
the judgment be stayed for ten days to allow the Bureau of
Prisons sufficient time to process his release. ECF No. 84.
Also pending are pro se motions Hall filed claiming
he is entided to relief under Hughes v. United
States, 138 S.Ct. 1756 (2018), and requesting a hearing.
ECF Nos. 70, 73.
reasons set forth below, the court will
GRANT Hall's request under the First
Step Act and modify his sentence to 116 months, but not less
than time served, to be followed by a 3-year term of
supervised release. Hall's motion for relief under
Hughes and his request for a hearing will be denied
as moot. The judgment will be stayed for ten days if the
Bureau of Prisons determines that Hall is entitled to
August 19, 2010, Hall was indicted on four counts of
distribution of five grams or more of cocaine base, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and
841(b)(1)(B), and one count of possessing a measurable
quantity of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C). ECF Nos. 3, 79. On
March 1, 2011 Hall entered into a written plea agreement
pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal
Procedure where he pleaded guilty to one count of
distributing more than 5 grams of cocaine base. ECF No. 27.
The statutory maximum term of imprisonment based on 5 grams
of cocaine base was 40 years. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)
(2000). ECF No. 27 at 3-4. The remaining counts were
to the PSR, Hall was held accountable for between 840 and 2,
800 grams of cocaine base. He also was found to be a career
offender based two prior felony drug convictions. His total
offense level based on the drug weight was 31, after
adjustment for acceptance of responsibility, which was the
same as his offense level under the career offender
guideline. See USSG § 4B.1.1(b)(2); ECF No. 79 at 5. His
offense level coupled with a criminal history category of VI
resulted in a sentencing range of 188-255 months. USSG Ch. 5,
Part A; ECF No. 79 at 11.
sentencing hearing held on August 1, 2011, the parties told
the court that there was a dispute regarding Hall's
classification as a career offender. Rather than litigate
Hall's status, the parties agreed that a sentence of 144
months was appropriate and the court entered that sentence,
to be followed by a 4-year term of supervised release. The
court compared the agreement to a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea
agreement. ECF No. 55 at 2-5. Hall has served approximately
99 months and his projected release date is June 27, 2020 via
18 U.S.C. § 3621(e) (participation in a residential
substance abuse treatment program). ECF No. 83.
time Hall was sentenced, a violation of § 841 (a)(1)
carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a
maximum of life imprisonment if the offense involved more
than 50 grams of cocaine base, and a penalty range of 5 to 40
years if the offense involved more than 5 grams of cocaine
base. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) and (B) (2000). In 2010,
the Fair Sentencing Act was enacted, and Section 2 of the act
reduced penalties for offenses involving cocaine base by
increasing the threshold drug quantities required to trigger
mandatory minimum sentences under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1).
Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220, § 2,
124 Stat. 2372 (2010). Currently, in order to trigger the
10-years-to-life-sentencing range, the offense must involve
more than 280 grams of cocaine base, and to trigger the
5-to-40-year sentencing range, the offense must involve more
than 28 grams of cocaine base. If an offense involves less
than 28 grams of cocaine base, there is no mandatory minimum
sentence and the mandatory maximum sentence is 20 years. 21
U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C).
First Step Act was passed on December 21, 2018. Section 404
of the act permits a court, upon motion of the defendant or
the government, or upon its own motion, to impose a reduced
sentence for certain offenses in accordance with the Fair
Sentencing Act of 2010, if such a reduction was not
previously granted. Offenses qualify for the reduction if
they were committed before August 3, 2010 and carry the
statutory penalties which were modified by section 2 or 3 of
the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. First Step Act of 2018, Pub.
L. No. 115-015, 132 Stat. 015(2018).
parties agree that the First Step Act applies to Hall.
Because he pleaded guilty to 5 grams of cocaine base, if the
Fair Sentencing Act had been in effect in when Hall was
sentenced, he would have had no mandatory minimum sentence
and the maximum sentence would have been 20 years. 21 U.S.C.
§ 841 (b)(1)(C) (2010). In turn, that maximum sentence
coupled with his career offender designation would have
resulted in a base level offense of 32 and a total offense
level of 29. USSG §4B1.1 (b)(3); ECF No. 83. With a
criminal history category of VI, the corresponding advisory
range for offense level 29 is 151-188 months of imprisonment.
ECF No. 83.
Hall been sentenced after passage of the Fair Sentencing Act,
the appropriate sentencing range would have been 151-188
months. His sentence of 144 months represented a 23.4 percent
reduction from the bottom of his original guideline range of
188-255 months. Applying a 23.4 percent reduction to the
bottom of his current sentencing guideline results in a
sentence of 116 months. Thus, an appropriate sentence for
Hall under the First Step Act would be 116 months, followed
by a 3-year term of supervised release. Because Hall has
served approximately 99 months, it appears that he may be
entitled to immediate release when his good conduct time is
factored into his sentence.
September 14, 2018 Hall filed a pro se motion for a reduction
in his sentence and requested a hearing. ECF Nos. 70, 73. He
argued that he is wrongfully categorized as a career offender
and that he is entitled to relief pursuant to Hughes v.
United States, 138 S.Ct. 1765 (2018). The Federal Public
Defender (FPD) was ordered to appear and notify the court as
to whether Hall was entitled to relief under Hughes.
ECF No. 74. The FPD filed the instant amended motion to
reduce Hall's sentence pursuant to the First Step Act,
but did not argue that Hall was entitled to any additional
reduction under Hughes. The FPD did argue that the
fact that Hall's sentence was ...