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United States v. Chapple

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

January 30, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
CHARLES LEWIS CHAPPLE, JR., also known as Derek Netten, also known as Anthony Moore, also known as Mark Clayton, Defendant-Appellant

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas

          Before JOLLY, SMITH and PRADO, Circuit Judges.

          PER CURIAM.

         Charles Lewis Chapple, Jr., appeals pro se from the district court's denial of a motion for a sentence reduction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). His motion was based on retroactive Guidelines Amendment 782, which lowered offense levels for a number of drug offenses by two base-offense levels. At the time of the Amendment, however, Chapple had already completed his term of imprisonment for the sentence that was eligible for the reduction and was serving time for subsequent offenses. Finding that Chapple is therefore ineligible for the reduction, we AFFIRM.

          I.

         Chapple was charged in the Southern District of Texas in 2005 with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), and 841(b)(1)(C). He was sentenced to an 87-month term of imprisonment, which ran consecutively to an undischarged imprisonment term that he was serving in California. After Chapple began serving his prison term for the Texas conviction, he escaped from the federal correctional facility where he was located in California and was later arrested on drug-trafficking charges in New Jersey. As a result of these developments, he faced a 48-month term of imprisonment for the New Jersey charge and a 15-month term of imprisonment for escaping from custody in California. The terms were to run consecutively in the order in which they were sentenced.

         In March 2015, Chapple filed a motion requesting a reduction in his Texas sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). In denying his request, the district court noted that "the defendant discharged the sentence in [the Texas conviction] of 87 (eighty-seven) months [of] imprisonment, on July 6, 2012, " and that Chapple was "currently serving sentences for cases out of New Jersey and California." Chapple then appealed, but his appeal was not within the 14-day time limit imposed by Rule 4(b)(1)(A) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure. Furthermore, he did not file a motion for an extension of time to file a notice of appeal. In the light of the unique circumstances[1] contributing to the delay in Chapple's appeal, however, the Government expressly waived this non-jurisdictional requirement. See United States v. Martinez, 496 F.3d 387, 388 (5th Cir. 2007) (finding that the deadline for filing a notice of appeal under Rule 4(b)(1)(A) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure in criminal cases is not jurisdictional and may be waived).

         II.

         We review a district court's interpretations of the Sentencing Guidelines de novo, and its factual findings for clear error. United States v. Evans, 587 F.3d 667, 672 (5th Cir. 2009). Further, we review a district court's decision in response to a § 3582(c)(2) motion for sentence reduction under an abuse of discretion standard. Id. If the district court "bases its decision on an error of law or a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence, " the court abuses its discretion. United States v. Henderson, 636 F.3d 713, 717 (5th Cir. 2011) (quoting United States v. Smith, 417 F.3d 483, 486-87 (5th Cir. 2005)). Claims that were not raised before the district court are subject to plain error review. Evans, 587 F.3d at 671.

         III.

         Chapple contends that the district court erred in denying his motion for sentence reduction under § 3582(c)(2) and that the retroactive application of Amendment 782 should reduce his previously served sentence, thereby hastening his ultimate release from prison. His argument centers on the Supreme Court's decision in Garlotte v. Fordice, 515 U.S. 39 (1995), in which the Court held that a prisoner serving consecutive sentences could attack the earlier sentence in the context of collateral review because he was "in custody" for the purposes of filing a habeas petition. Chapple also raises a due process argument for the first time on appeal.

         In general, § 3582 limits the ability of a court to reduce a sentence term that has already been imposed. Subsection (c)(2) of § 3582, however, provides:

[I]n the case of a defendant who 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), upon motion of the defendant or the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, or on its own motion, the court may reduce the term of imprisonment, after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to the extent that they are applicable, if such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.

18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) (2012) (emphasis added). The applicable policy statement here is § 1B1.10 of the Sentencing Guidelines. As the Supreme Court explained in Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 826 (2010), Section 3582(c)(2) thereby articulates a two-step inquiry: "A court must first determine that a reduction is consistent with ยง 1B1.10 before it may consider whether the authorized reduction is ...


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