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United States v. Martin

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

February 26, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
PAULETTE MARTIN, a/k/a Paulette Murphy, a/k/a Paulette Akuffo, a/k/a Paula Murphy, a/k/a Auntie, Defendant-Appellant. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
LUIS FELIPE MANGUAL, SR., Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: December 11, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Greenbelt. Roger W. Titus, Senior District Judge., (8:04-cr-00235-RWT-1) (8:04-cr-00235-RWT-25)

         ARGUED:

          Sapna Mirchandani, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellant.

          Ellen Elisabeth Cobb, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          James Wyda, Federal Public Defender, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant.

          Robert K. Hur, United States Attorney, Stephen M. Schenning, Acting United States Attorney, Baltimore, Maryland, David I. Salem, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellee.

          Before GREGORY, Chief Judge, MOTZ, and FLOYD, Circuit Judges.

          GREGORY, CHIEF JUDGE

         Defendants-Appellants Paulette Martin and Luis Felipe Mangual Sr. both filed motions for sentence reductions under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and now appeal adverse district court rulings. Because the district court failed to provide Martin and Mangual with individualized explanations for its rulings on their respective motions, we vacate and remand.

         I.

         A.

         A jury convicted Martin in 2006 of various drug and drug-related offenses in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, 21 U.S.C. § 843(b), and 21 U.S.C. § 841(a). Martin served as a leader in a drug conspiracy for at least seven years-a conspiracy involving a large quantity of cocaine and heroin-and even though she did not engage in violence, her co-conspirators carried firearms. Given this information, the Presentence Report calculated Martin's adjusted combined offense level as a 44. Martin had only one prior conviction, dating back to 1986 and therefore had a criminal history category of I. The Sentencing Guidelines' calculations recommended Martin face life imprisonment for her crimes. The district court noted the severity of Martin's criminal activity and sentenced her to life imprisonment, and this Court affirmed Martin's conviction and sentence. United States v. Martin, 452 Fed.Appx. 239 (4th Cir. 2011).

         In February 2015, Martin filed a pro se motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), seeking the benefit of Amendment 782, [*] which lowered the base offense levels applicable to drug offenses by two offense levels. This could afford Martin sentencing relief if her Guidelines range were recalculated at an adjusted combined offense level of 42 instead of her original 44. Martin asserted her eligibility for reduction based on Amendment 782, but also emphasized her work tutoring other inmates, the number and variety of courses she completed while incarcerated, and her exemplary prison record. Martin explained how she lacked any connection to organized drug-based criminal enterprises and that she would not be a threat to society at her age. Martin further contended that she could possibly serve as a mentor to misguided youth upon her release from prison. In addition to Martin's pro se motion, the Office of the Federal Public Defender filed a motion on her behalf, argued that her ...


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