Sixth Circuit Notes Split Re Whether Guidelines Range Is Mandatory in a 3582 Procedding

Per U.S. v. Quinn, --- F.3d ----, 2009 WL 2391856 (6th Cir. Aug. 6, 2009):

But Quinn did not ask the district court to grant him a downward variance and has not argued on appeal that the district court should have-or could have-varied below the properly calculated Guidelines range. In fact, Quinn explicitly stated that “the only relief [he] seeks is a full 2 level reduction in his crack sentence pursuant to Amendment 706,” and contrasts his request with the arguments of defendants in other cases who requested outside-Guidelines sentences at the modification stage. The government's arguments regarding the somewhat murky interplay between the Booker line of Supreme Court cases and 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) are therefore only tangentially relevant to this case. Compare U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(b)(2) (prohibiting district courts, when modifying pre- Booker sentencing determinations, from using 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) to reduce a term of imprisonment below the bottom of the recalculated Guidelines range), and United States v. Rhodes, 549 F.3d 833 (10th Cir.2008) (holding that district courts lack authority to impose a sentence that falls below the amended Guidelines range in a sentence-modification proceeding) with United States v. Johnson, 553 F.3d 990, 992 (6th Cir.2009) (making note of a district court's authority to “reject and vary from the crack-cocaine Guidelines based solely on a policy disagreement with those Guidelines” (citing Spears v. United States, 129 S.Ct. 840 (2009))), and United States v. Hicks, 472 F.3d 1167 (9th Cir .2007) (holding that a newly calculated Guidelines range in a sentence-modification proceeding is advisory). We thus note that a circuit split exists on the question of whether a Guidelines range is mandatory in a sentence-modification proceeding under § 3582(c)(2), but decline to resolve the issue in this case because Quinn has not requested a downward variance.


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