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United States v. Hill

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

April 30, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
DAVID HILL, Defendant.

          FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          DAVID L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Defendant David Hill, a federal prisoner, filed pro se a motion for 2 level reduction (Amendment 782) [Dkt. No. 148] (the “Motion”). Senior United States District Judge A. Joe Fish referred the Motion to the undersigned United States magistrate judge for hearing, if necessary, and for recommendation under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). See Dkt. No. 149.

         The undersigned enters these findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation that, to the extent that Hill requests reconsideration of the Court's denial of his motion for sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), reconsideration should be denied and, to the extent that Hill raises a post-conviction challenge to the initial calculation of his guideline sentence, that challenge is made through an unauthorized successive motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, and the Court, construing the Motion as such, should transfer it to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for appropriate action.

         The Court should further direct the Clerk of the Court to open for statistical purposes a new Section 2255 case (nature of suit 510 directly assigned, per Special Order 3-250, to Judge Fish and the undersigned) and close the same on the basis of any order accepting or adopting this recommendation.

         Applicable Background

         As the Court recounted in August 2018, when Hill sought to again attack his criminal judgment, relying that time on a recent decision from the United States Supreme Court to argue that this Court erred in calculating his sentence under the United States Sentencing Guidelines,

[a] jury found Hill guilty of conspiracy to manufacture and possess with the intent to distribute methamphetamine. See United States v. Hill, 3:03-cr-159-G (02) (N.D. Tex.), Dkt. No. 68. He was sentenced to prison for 360 months in 2003. See id.
After his criminal judgment was affirmed on direct appeal, see United States v. Hill, 623 Fed.Appx. 200 (5th Cir. 2015), Hill filed his first Section 2255 motion, see Hill v. United States, 3:07-cv-594-G (N.D. Tex.). The Court denied that motion on its merits. See Hill v. United States, 3:07-cv-594-G (N.D. Tex.), Dkt. No. 12.
Hill later filed a successive Section 2255 motion, which the Court transferred to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. See Hill v. United States, 3:13-cv-4456-G-BN (N.D. Tex.), Dkt. No. 7. Hill appealed that transfer, and the Fifth Circuit affirmed this Court's judgment. See Hill v. United States, 623 Fed.Appx. 200, 201 (5th Cir. 2015).

Hill v. United States, No. 3:18-cv-2127-G-BN, 2018 WL 4471791, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Aug. 21, 2018), rec. accepted, 2018 WL 4471706 (N.D. Tex. Sept. 17, 2018), authorization to file a successive Section 2255 motion dismissed, No. 18-11240 (5th Cir. Nov. 1, 2018).

         Further applicable here, the Court denied Hill's 2016 motion to reduce his sentence under Section 3582(c)(2) based on retroactive 2014 Drug Guidelines Amendment 782, after the probation office found that Amendment 782 did not have the effect of lowering Hill's applicable guideline sentence - although his total offense level dropped by 2 points (from 41 to 39), the guideline imprisonment range remained 360 months to Life. See Dkt. Nos. 137, 138, 139, 140, & 141.

         Hill now contends, through the Motion, that, “had there not been plain error in the calculation of the Sentencing Guidelines in my case, I would qualify for Amendment 782.” Dkt. No. 148 at 2. In support, he argues that an error exists in the initial presentence report's calculation of his base offense level (based on the drug amount for which he was held accountable). See Id. at 2-5.

         Legal Standards and Analysis

         First, the Court should deny Hill's request to reconsider its denial of his 2016 Section 3582(c)(2) motion based on Amendment 782. As the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit observed in a related context, in reducing a sentence under Section 3582(c)(2), the district court may not reconsider other components of a defendant's guideline sentence calculation not affected by ...


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