United States District Court, D. New Mexico
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
CHRISTINA ARMIJO, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Ralph
Sanchez's Motion to Reduce Sentence [Doc. 96]
and Response to Probation Memo [Doc. 102]. The
Government responded to both motions. [Doc. 107] The Court
has considered the parties' submissions and the relevant
law, and is otherwise fully informed. For the following
reasons, the Court DISMISSES Defendant's
was charged in a three-count indictment with being a felon in
possession of a firearm and ammunition, contrary to 18 U.S.C.
§§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2); possession with intent
to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, contrary to
21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B); and carrying
and possessing a firearm during and in relation to and in
furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, contrary to 18
U.S.C. § 924(c). [Doc. 2; Doc. 15 (superseding
indictment)] He entered into a plea agreement in June, 2010.
[Doc. 75] In the agreement, Defendant agreed to plead guilty
to Count 2, possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or
more of cocaine base, and to a 12-year sentence pursuant to
11(c)(1)(C) of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. [Doc.
75, ¶4.a] The Court accepted the plea agreement and,
consistent with the agreement, sentenced Defendant to 12
years imprisonment in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.
[Doc. 81] Judgment was entered in April, 2011. [Doc. 87]
pro se, Defendant first moved for a modification of his
sentence in December, 2012, citing Amendment 750 to the
Sentencing Guidelines. [Doc. 88] “[I]n response to the
Fair Sentencing Act [of 2010, Pub. L. 111-220], the
Sentencing Commission promulgated Amendment 750, which
reduced the base offense levels for various quantities of
crack cocaine. . . . With Congress's acquiescence, the
Sentencing Commission applied Amendment 750
retroactively.” United States v. Kinchion, 592
F. App'x 721, 724 (10th Cir. 2014) (citing the Federal
Sentencing Guidelines Manual, App. C, Amend. 750 (2011). In
June, 2013, after the Government responded to the motion,
[Doc. 91], the Court appointed counsel for Defendant and
ordered Defendant to reply to the Government's response.
[Doc. 92; Doc. 93] Nearly two years later, in March and April
2015, again acting pro se, Defendant filed two more motions
for reduction of his sentence. [Doc. 94; Doc. 96] Substitute
counsel for Defendant was appointed. [Doc. 95] In July 2015,
the Court denied Defendant's pro se Motion to Reduce
Sentence. [Doc. 96; Doc. 97] However, Defendant's
counsel moved the Court to withdraw its order denying the
Motion and permit counsel “adequate time to
investigate the motion.” [Doc. 98] The Court granted
counsel's Motion and withdrew the denial of
Defendant's pro se Motion. [Doc. 96; Doc. 97;
filed its Response to Probation Memo [Doc. 102] in
August 2015, and, pursuant to an order by this Court, the
Government responded in November 2015. [Doc. 107]
courts lack jurisdiction to modify a sentence after it has
been imposed. United States v. Jones, 634 F.
App'x 649, 650 (10th Cir. 2015). However, Congress has
granted permission to reduce a sentence under specific
circumstances. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Specifically,
[t]he court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has
been imposed except that . . . in 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) (Emphasis added). The
“policy statements” referenced are found in
§ 1B1.10 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
See Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 821
(2010) (stating that § 1B1.10 is the “relevant
policy statement” to which § 3582 refers). That
section provides in part that
(1) In General.--In a case in which a
defendant is serving a term of imprisonment, and the
guideline range applicable to that defendant has subsequently
been lowered as a result of an amendment to the
Guidelines Manual listed in subsection (d) below, the court
may reduce the defendant's term of imprisonment as
provided by 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2). As required by 18 U.S.C.
3582(c)(2), any such reduction in the defendant's term of
imprisonment shall be consistent with this policy statement.
U.S.S.G. 1B1.10(a)(1) (Emphasis added).
together, Sections 3582(c)(2) and 1B1.10(a)(1) require a
two-step inquiry. “Under step one of this inquiry, . .
. ‘§ 3582(c)(2) requires [a district] court to
follow the [Sentencing] Commission's instructions in
§ 1B1.10 to determine the prisoner's eligibility for
a sentence modification and the extent of the reduction
authorized' [and o]nly if a district court
‘determine[s] that a reduction is consistent with
§ 1B1.10' may it proceed to step two of the
inquiry.” United States v. McGee, 615 F.3d
1287, 1292 (10th Cir. 2010) (quoting Dillon, 560
U.S. at 827) (second alteration added). If a defendant is not
eligible for a reduction, the district court lacks
jurisdiction to reduce the sentence and the defendant's
motion must be dismissed. Jones, 634 F. App'x at
652 (holding that where a defendant's “rule
11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement was not based on a sentencing
range that has since been lowered, the district court lacked
jurisdiction to consider [the defendant's] motion”
and should have dismissed the motion rather than deny it).
“‘At step two of the inquiry, . . . §
3582(c)(2) instructs a [district] court to ...