United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Eastern Division
TERRENCE W. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
cause comes before the Court on defendant Coakley's pro
se motion for reduction in sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§ 3582. The Office of the Federal Public Defender was
appointed to assist Coakley with this matter and a hearing
was held before the undersigned on March 21, 2018, at
Raleigh, North Carolina. For the reasons that follow,
defendant's motion for reduction is denied.
was sentenced by this Court to a term of life imprisonment
plus 360 months, to be served concurrently, after being found
guilty of cocaine and cocaine base offenses. 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841 and 846. Coakley's conviction on count
one resulted in a mandatory statutory life sentence on the
basis of an enhancement filed by the government prior to
trial under 21 U.S.C. § 851. See 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(b)(1)(A). At sentencing, Coakley was also found to
qualify as a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, and
his advisory Sentencing Guidelines range on the remaining
counts of conviction was 360 months to life imprisonment.
Coakley did not receive the benefit of any substantial
assistance motion filed by the government.
21, 2015, Coakley filed a motion to reduce his sentence under
18 U.S.C. § 3582 based on Amendment 782 to the
Guidelines. [DE 126]. The Court denied Coakley's motion
[DE 138], and the court of appeals affirmed the denial,
noting that a "defendant who was convicted of a crack
offense but sentenced pursuant to a mandatory statutory
minimum sentence is ineligible for a reduction under §
3582(c)(2)." United States v. Coakley, 671 F.
App'x 219 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting United States v.
Munn, 595 F.3d 183, 187 (4th Cir. 2010)).
August 30, 2016, President Obama issued an executive grant of
clemency, commuting Coakley's sentence from life
imprisonment to 360 months' imprisonment. [DE 142].
Coakley then filed the instant motion on February 22, 2017,
arguing that the commutation of his sentence to 360
months' imprisonment resulted in his being eligible for a
reduction in sentence under Amendment 782.
"may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been
imposed except" under limited circumstances. 18 U.S.C.
§ 3582(c). One of those circumstances is where the
defendant "has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment
based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been
lowered by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
994(o) . . .." 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2); see
also U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(a). The Court finds that
Coakley is ineligible for a reduction in his sentence under
Amendment 782 for two reasons.
courts that have considered the issue have held that a
presidential commutation of a defendant's sentence does
not result in a sentence "based on a sentencing
range" under the Guidelines. Rather, it is an
executively imposed sentence, and outside the province of the
judiciary to amend. See, e.g., United States v.
Surratt, 855 F.3d 218, 219 (4th Cir. 2017) (Wilkinson,
J., concurring in the judgment)(defendant is "no longer
serving a judicially imposed sentence, but a presidentially
commuted one. The President's commutation order simply
closes the judicial door. Absent some constitutional
infirmity in the commutation order, which is not present
here, we may not readjust or rescind what the President, in
the exercise of his pardon power, has done.");
United States v. Jones, No. 3:02-CR-00110,
2017 WL 3097956, at *2 (M.D. Term. July 21, 2017)
(commutation does not lower a defendant's sentencing
range); United States v. Gibson, No. 94-CR-454, 2017
WL 1301514, at *1 (D. Md. Apr. 7, 2017) (commutation does not
affect eligibility for relief under § 3582),
aff'd, 694 Fed.Appx. 170 (4th Cir. 2017);
United States v. Buenrostro, No. 2:95-504 WBS AC,
2016 WL 6895445, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 23, 2016) (same).
Here, Coakley was sentenced to the statutory mandatory
minimum sentence of life imprisonment, and President
Obama's commutation of his sentence to 360 months'
imprisonment is not a sentence that is based on a sentencing
range subsequently lowered by the Sentencing Commission.
See United States v. Hood, 556 F.3d 226, 232 (4th
Cir. 2009) (district court not authorized under § 3582
to lower a sentence if the amendment "does not have the
effect of lowering the defendant's applicable guideline
range") (quoting U.S.S.G. § IB 1.10(a)(2)(B))
abrogated on other grounds by United States v.
Williams, 808 F.3d 253 (4th Cir. 2015).
Coakley was also found at sentencing to be a career offender.
Even if Amendment 782 could be applied to reduce
Coakley's base offense level under U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1,
his career offender status would still be applicable,
resulting in a higher total offense level. See United
States v. Proctor, 397 Fed.Appx. 898, 899 (4th Cir.
2010). The overall result is a new Guidelines range of 360
months to life based on an offense level of thirty-seven and
a criminal history category of VI. Coakley would therefore be
ineligible for a reduction. See U.S.S.G. § IB
1.10(b)(2)(A); United States v. Flowers, 670
Fed.Appx. 134 (4th Cir. 2016) ("The court cannot reduce
the sentence under § 3582(c)(2) to a term less than the
minimum of the amended guideline range, unless the original
sentence was lower than the initial guideline range to
reflect the defendant's substantial assistance.").
and for these reasons, defendant's pro se motion for
sentence reduction [DE 150] is DENIED. Defendant's motion
to dismiss government's response as out of time [DE 158]
is DENIED, see [DE 157], and defendant's ...