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United States v. Hunter

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton

January 9, 2020

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CHRISTOPHER HUNTER, Defendant.

         ENTRY AND ORDER DENYING UNITED STATES' MOTION TO DISMISS DEFENDANT'S 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) MOTION (DOC. 270) AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION PURSUANT TO 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) REQUESTING THIS COURT REDUCE THE SENTENCE OF CHRISTOPHER HUNTER FOR EXTRAORDINARY AND COMPELLING CIRCUMSTANCES (DOC. 264)

          THOMAS M. ROSE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case is before the Court on the “Motion Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A) Requesting This Court Reduce the Sentence of Christopher Hunter for Extraordinary and Compelling Circumstances” (Doc. 264) (the “3582(c)(1)(A) Motion”), filed by Christopher Hunter (“Hunter”). The United States (the “Government”) filed a Response in Opposition to the 3582(c)(1)(A) Motion (Doc. 269) (the “Response”), and Hunter filed a Reply to the Response (Doc. 278) (the “Reply”).[1] Hunter, acting pro se, asks that this Court reduce his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A).[2] Hunter also filed, or the Court received, a number of additional documents related to his 3582(c)(1)(A) Motion, including Hunter's 28(j) Letter to Supplement (Doc. 265), Warden Quintana's Response (Doc. 267), Letter from Carissa Colchin (Doc. 275), and Letter to Magistrate Judge Michael R. Merz (Doc. 276). The matter is ripe for review.

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES Hunter's 3582(c)(1)(A) Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Hunter was indicted on March 28, 2006 and convicted by a jury on all four counts in a Superseding Indictment returned April 25, 2006. (Docs. 22, 51.) Those four counts were: possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); conspiracy to distribute in excess of five kilograms of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846; possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1); and, being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). After an appeal reversed the conviction for possession of a firearm during a drug offense but affirmed the remaining convictions and sentence (United States v. Hunter, 558 F.3d 495 (6th Cir. 2009)), this Court entered an Amended Judgment on remand, imposing an aggregate sentence of 360 months imprisonment. (Doc. 119.) Hunter appealed again, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed. United States v. Hunter, 646 F.3d 372 (6th Cir. 2011). Hunter's conviction became final on direct appeal when the Supreme Court denied him certiorari on October 7, 2011. Hunter v. United States, 132 S.Ct. 390 (2011).

         II. ANALYSIS

         Hunter now seeks “a sentence reduction under the federal compassionate release statute, ” Section 3552(c)(1)(A)(i). (Doc. 264 at PAGEID # 3959.)

         A. Legal Standard

         A district court has limited authority to modify a sentence. “Generally speaking, once a court has imposed a sentence, it does not have authority to change or modify that sentence unless such authority is expressly granted by statute.” United States v. Hammond, 712 F.3d 333, 335 (6th Cir. 2013). Section 3582 grants such authority in certain limited circumstances. It provides, in part:

The court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed except that-in any case-the court … may reduce the term of imprisonment (and may impose a term of probation or supervised release with or without conditions that does not exceed the unserved portion of the original term of imprisonment), after considering the factors set forth in [18 U.S.C.] section 3553(a) to the extent that they are applicable, if it finds that extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant such a reduction … and that such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.

18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i).

         Thus, the Court can modify a term of imprisonment if it finds that (1) “extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant such a reduction, ” (2) “such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission, ” and (3) such a reduction is appropriate “after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to the extent that they are applicable.” Id. In addition, the applicable policy statement issued by the Sentencing Commission in this instance also requires that the defendant not be “a danger to the safety of any other person in the community, as provided in 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g).” United States Sentencing Commission, Guidelines Manual, § 1B1.13 (Nov. 1, 2018).[3]

         Commentary to that applicable policy statement issued by the Sentencing Commission identifies four, relatively narrow, circumstances in which “extraordinary and compelling reasons” may exist. Id. at cmt. n. 1. Those four circumstances are: (A) Medical Condition of the Defendant; (B) Age of the Defendant; (C) Family Circumstances; and (D) other extraordinary and compelling reason.[4]Id. Each of the four circumstances has its own parameters. Id. Commentary also confirms that “[p]ursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 994(t), ...


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