United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is a letter from Jarange Durr, which the Court
construes as a request for reconsideration of this
Court's July 15, 2019 Order reducing Durr's sentence
pursuant to the First Step Act. For the reasons that follow,
the motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Durr appeared before the Court for sentencing on June 26,
2008, after having pled guilty to two counts: (1) possession
with the intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine
base and a quantity of cocaine hydrochloride, in violation of
21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), and
841(b)(1)(C); and (2) felon in possession of a firearm, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2).
In light of Mr. Durr's two prior convictions for felony
drug offenses, the Sentencing Guidelines called for an
imprisonment range of 262 to 327 months, and the Court
sentenced him to 327 months imprisonment.
April 18, 2019, Durr filed a motion to reduce his sentence
pursuant to Section 404 of the First Step Act. In accordance
with Chief Judge Brown's General Order, Durr's motion
was reviewed by the First Step Act Screening Committee, which
is comprised of an Assistant United States Attorney, an
Assistant Federal Public Defender, and a Senior United States
Probation Officer. All members of the Screening Committee
agreed that Durr is eligible for a sentence reduction and
that his modified Guidelines range is 188 to 235 months of
Government, however, recommended a sentence at the top of the
Guidelines range, which would be consistent with this
Court's original sentence, while an Assistant Federal
Public Defender supported Durr's request for a sentence
below the Guidelines range, in the range of 151 to 188
months, considering Durr's limited misconduct while
incarcerated. Agreeing with the Government that a sentence at
the top of the modified Guidelines range was appropriate, the
Court reduced Durr's term of imprisonment to 235 months
in an Order dated July 15, 2019.
weeks later, the Court received a letter from Mr. Durr,
requesting reconsideration of this Court's Order reducing
his sentence. In his letter, Durr submits that the First Step
Act Screening Committee erred in determining that a modified
Guidelines range of 188 to 235 months applies to his case.
Durr maintains that, as a career offender convicted of
possession with the intent to distribute less than 28 grams
of cocaine base, his offense level is 32. A three-level
decrease for acceptance of responsibility, in turn, produces
a total offense level of 29. When coupled with his criminal
history category of VI, Durr submits, the Guidelines call for
an imprisonment range of 151 to 188 months. Durr further
urges the Court that he should be sentenced at the lower end
of the Guidelines range, in light of his poor health, need to
support his teenaged daughter and elderly mother, and
successful completion of countless courses during his
considering Durr's letter, coupled with supplemental
briefing from the Government and the Assistant Federal Public
Defender enrolled in this matter, the Court finds that the
Screening Committee correctly calculated Durr's modified
Guidelines range, but that a revised sentence at the bottom
(rather than the top) of the Guidelines range is appropriate.
the enactment of the First Step Act, the statutory penalty
for Mr. Durr's conviction on Count 1 is located in 21
U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C), which applies to violations of
§ 841(a)(1) involving less than 28 grams of crack.
Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C), Durr's
conviction now carries a statutory penalty range of zero to
30 years of imprisonment, in light of his prior conviction
for a felony drug offense. As a result, Durr's career
offender offense level is now 34 because the statutory
maximum sentence for his offense is “25 years or
more” but less than life imprisonment. See
U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(b)(2). Reducing this offense level by
three points for acceptance of responsibility results in a
total offense level of 31 and a Sentencing Guidelines range
of 188 to 235 months.
contending that his base offense level under §
841(b)(1)(C) is 32, resulting in a total offense level of 29
and a Guidelines range of 151 to 188 months, Durr overlooks
that his career offender status elevates the statutory
maximum for his offense to 30 years, which thereby elevates
his career offender offense level to 34 under the Guidelines.
Accordingly, the First Step Act Screening Committee (and this
Court) correctly determined that Durr's modified
Guidelines range is 188 to 235 months of imprisonment.
after considering the factors of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) in
light of new information contained in Mr. Durr's letter,
the Court finds that a revised sentence at the bottom, rather