United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the Motion (Doc. 43) of
Defendant Lachon Phillips to Reduce his Sentence Under
Section 404 of the First Step Act. For the following reasons,
the Motion is GRANTED, in part and
DENIED, in part.
7, 2007, Defendant pleaded guilty to Count One, Possession of
Cocaine Base (Crack) with Intent to Distribute, in violation
of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A). In his
Plea Agreement, Defendant admitted to possessing with the
intent to distribute approximately 365.3 grams of crack.
(Doc. 24, PageID: 59). On September 13, 2007, the Court
sentenced Defendant to 235 months imprisonment and 10 years
supervised release. (Doc. 26).
December 21, 2018, President Trump signed into law the First
Step Act of 2018.Section 404 of the First Step Act
“applies retroactively the Fair Sentencing act of 2010
which reduced mandatory minimum penalties for crack cocaine
March 21, 2019,  Defendant filed a Motion seeking relief
under the First Step Act. (Doc. 42). The Government filed its
Opposition on April 3, 2019. (Doc. 44). Defendant filed a
Supplement to his Motion on October 7, 2019. (Doc. 45).
Law and Analysis
Standard of Review
federal courts may not modify an individual's term of
imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). An exception to this
general rule is contained in 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B).
Under this Section, a court may “modify an imposed term
of imprisonment to the extent otherwise permitted by
statute…” Id. at § 3582(c)(1)(B).
The First Step Act of 2018 is such a statute that permits the
modification of an individual's term of
court that imposed a sentence for a ‘covered
offense' may…impose a reduced sentence as if
sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of
2010…were in effect at the time the covered offense
was committed.” First Step Act of 2018, PL 115-391,
Dec. 21, 2018, 132 Stat. 5194 (hereafter “First Step
Act”), § 404(b) (internal citations omitted). A
“covered offense” means “a violation of a
Federal criminal statute, the statutory penalties for which
were modified by section 2 or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of
2010…that was committed before August 3, 2010.”
Id. at § 404(a) (internal citations omitted).
are a few limitations before a court may reduce a sentence
under the First Step Act. Specifically, a court cannot reduce
a sentence (1) if the court previously reduced
defendant's sentence under the Fair Sentencing Act; or
(2) if a defendant previously moved under the First Step Act
and a court denied the defendant's motion on the merits.
Id. at § 404(c). Further, a court's
decision to reduce a sentence is discretionary. Id.
(“Nothing in this section shall be construed to require
a court to reduce any sentence pursuant to this
Eligibility Under the First Step Act
parties disagree whether Defendant is eligible for relief
under the First Step Act. The Government argues that
Defendant would face the same statutory punishment if the
Court applied the revised Fair Sentencing Act range to
Defendant's crimes. This is because Defendant admitted in
his Plea Agreement to possessing at least 365.3 grams of
counters and cites the same Plea Agreement where the parties
stipulated that Defendant's offense involved a range of
150-500 grams of crack. Defendant also cites the Indictment
which charged Defendant with possession of 50 grams or more
of crack. Given Congressional intent, the rule of lenity and
the focus on statutory penalties as opposed to individual
conduct, Defendant argues the Court should look at the lower
weight of crack and apply the Fair Sentencing Act penalties.
Doing so would reduce Defendant's ...