United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Hood Senior U.S. District Judge.
Raymond D. Ramseur, a federal prisoner proceeding pro se, has
filed a letter asking if he is eligible for a reduction of
sentence under the provisions of the First Step Act of 2018
and asking for appointment of counsel. [DE 28]. The Court
construes Ramseur's letter as a motion for a reduction of
sentence under Section 404 of the First Step Act and as a
motion for appointment of counsel. But Ramseur was sentenced
as a career offender. As a result, under Sixth Circuit
precedent, Ramseur is ineligible for a sentence reduction
under the First Step Act due to his status as a career
offender. As a result, Ramseur's motion for a reduction
of sentence and appointment of counsel [DE 28] are
December 8, 2011, Ramseur pleaded guilty to one count of
possession with intent to distribute cocaine base
(“crack cocaine”) and one count of possession of
a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
[DE 13; DE 14]. Subsequently, the Honorable Karl S. Forester
sentenced Ramseur to 120 months of imprisonment on count one
and 60 months of imprisonment on count 2, to be served
consecutively, for a total term of imprisonment of 180
months. [DE 25]. Ramseur was also sentenced to 6 years of
supervised release on count 1 and five years of supervised
release on count 2, to be served concurrently, for a total
term of 6 years of supervised release following
incarceration. Both the plea agreement [DE 14] and
Ramseur's current motion for reduction of sentence [DE
28] indicate that Ramseur was sentenced as a career offender.
Ramseur did not appeal his conviction or sentence.
Reduction of Sentence Under the First Step Act
December 21, 2018, the First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No.
115-391, 132 Stat. 5194, was signed into law. Among other
reforms, Section 404 of the First Step Act retroactively
applies certain sentencing reform provisions of the Fair
Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372
(“FSA”). Specifically, the First Step Act
retroactively applies the reduced statutory penalties for
cocaine base (“crack” cocaine) offenses in the
FSA to “covered offenses” committed before August
court that imposed a sentence for a covered offense may
impose a sentence as if the FSA were in effect at the time
the covered offense was committed. This reduction in sentence
may be made by the court on its own or on a motion of the
defendant, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, or an
attorney for the United States.
Ramseur seeks a reduction of sentence under the First Step
Act. “Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), a defendant is
eligible for a sentence reduction if: (1) the defendant has
been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a
sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the
Sentencing Commission; and (2) such reduction is consistent
with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing
Commission.” United States v. Riley, 726 F.3d
756, 758 (6th Cir. 2013) (internal citations and quotation
omitted). To satisfy the second requirement, “a
guidelines amendment must have the effect of lowering the
defendant's applicable guideline range.”
Id. (internal citations and quotations omitted).
Ramseur's status as a career offender renders him
ineligible for a sentence reduction under Section 404 of the
First Step Act based on Sixth Circuit precedent. In
Riley, the Sixth Circuit addressed whether prisoners
sentenced as career offenders were eligible for a sentence
reduction under the Fair Sentencing Act and held that those
sentenced as career offenders under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1
were not eligible because the reforms in the Fair Sentencing
Act only affected the guidelines ranges under U.S.S.G. §
2D1.1. Id. at 758-59.
holding, the Sixth Circuit explained that career offenders
were not eligible for a sentence reduction under Amendment
706, a retroactive amendment that lowered the base offense
levels for most crack offense levels in § 2D1.1, because
sentences for career offenders were not based on a sentencing
range that had been lowered by the commission. See
Id. (discussing United States v. Perdue, 572
F.3d 288 (6th Cir. 2009)).
Sixth Circuit reaffirmed its holding in Perdue in
the context of Amendment 750 under the Fair Sentencing Act
because “that amendment did not lower the career
offender sentencing guidelines range” where a sentence
was derived from a defendant's status as a career
offender, rather than based on the quantity of drugs.
Id. at 759 (citing and discussing United States
v. Tillman, 511 Fed.Appx. 519, 521 (6th Cir. 2013)).
course, the court must preliminarily calculate a
defendant's § 2D1.1 guideline range to determine the
statutory maximum offense level in §4B1.1, but this does
not mean that the sentence was “based on” the
drug quantity calculations in § 2D1.1. Ultimately, a
preliminary calculation of a defendant's § 2D1.1
guideline range does not make the final sentence “based
on” the §2D1.1 guidelines. Id. at 759
the Sixth Circuit has held that the reforms in the Fair
Sentencing Act “only altered the § 2D1.1 guideline
ranges” and that “sentences of career
offenders under § 4B1.1 are not based on the §
2D1.1 ranges.” I ...