United States v. Waters

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 08-19-2011
  • Case #: 10-50256
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fisher for the Court; Circuit Judges Pregerson and Berzon
  • Full Text Opinion

When considering a sentence modification pursuant to Rule 706, a district court may apply a career offender enhancement during modification proceedings so long as the original sentencing court found that the defendant was eligible for that enhancement.

Waters was arrested for selling crack cocaine and marijuana. At his sentencing, the district court enhanced his offense level from a level 36 to a 38 for involving a minor in the crime’s commission. The sentencing court found that Waters was a career criminal with a criminal history category at level IV. In 2002, the district judge sentenced Waters to 360 months to life in prison. In 2007, the law (Rule 706) was changed and crack offenses were reduced by two levels in terms of the sentencing guideline. The change applied retroactively and Waters moved the district court to modify his sentence. That court dismissed his claim and Waters appealed. The Court of Appeals found that it could not modify Waters sentence because it wouldn’t be “a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.” U.S.S.G.§ 1B1.10(b)(1) says that application of Rule 706 “Shall leave all other guideline application decisions unaffected.” The Court reasoned that although the district court did not directly apply the career offender enhancement during Water’s sentencing in 2002, the district court did determine that Waters qualified as one. Thus, the “application” of the career offender statute would take the place of the drug quantity enhancement (reduced by Rule 706) and Waters result would be the same. AFFIRMED.

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