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United States v. Hegwood

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

August 8, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
MICHAEL DEWAYNE HEGWOOD, Defendant-Appellant

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas

          Before HIGGINBOTHAM, SMITH, and SOUTHWICK, Circuit Judges.

          LESLIE H. SOUTHWICK, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         This appeal concerns the First Step Act, in which Congress permitted a sentencing court to "impose a reduced sentence as if . . . the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 . . . were in effect at the time the covered offense was committed." The issue is whether district courts are authorized to conduct a plenary resentencing, which would include recalculating the Sentencing Guidelines range as if the defendant were being sentenced for the first time under present law, or whether courts are limited to reductions resulting from the Fair Sentencing Act. Concluding that the First Step Act does not allow plenary resentencing, we AFFIRM.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On July 24, 2008, Michael Dewayne Hegwood was charged with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute 5 grams or more of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B)(iii), and 846. He pled guilty on November 12, 2008, pursuant to a plea agreement, to possession with intent to distribute 5 grams or more of cocaine base.

         Hegwood admitted to what was in the government's proposed factual basis, which stated he sold approximately 8 grams of cocaine base to a cooperating witness. The cocaine sale was arranged through a phone call that was recorded by law enforcement. The cocaine transaction was recorded by video and audio. The PSR found that Hegwood was responsible for a total of 9.32 grams of cocaine base.

         Using the 2008 Guidelines, the PSR calculated Hegwood's total offense level at 31, recommending a term of imprisonment between 188 and 235 months. The PSR calculated his base offense level as 24. U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c)(8) (2008). The probation officer recommended a two-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility and a one level reduction for timely notification of his intent to plead guilty.

         Relevant to this appeal, the PSR recommended an enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 because Hegwood was determined by the probation officer to be a "career offender." The PSR stated that Hegwood had been convicted of two prior felony controlled-substance offenses, which, combined with his guilty plea to possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, satisfied the career-offender guideline. Under the career-offender guideline his offense level was 34, which, after subtracting the three levels for acceptance of responsibility, resulted in a final offense level of 31. Hegwood was within a criminal-history category of VI, having 20 criminal history points. Hegwood claims, and the government does not seem to dispute, that the career-offender enhancement was based on a 2002 conviction for delivery of a controlled substance for which the sentence was one year in jail and a 2007 conviction for delivery of a controlled substance for which the sentence was three years in prison.

         In January 2010, Hegwood was sentenced to serve 200 months "after the credit" for 27 months on a related state sentence, with five years of supervised release. We subsequently dismissed Hegwood's appeal pursuant to Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967).

         In October 2011, Hegwood filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to, among other things, request retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. The district court construed the motion as a motion to reduce his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and denied his motion, stating that he was "deemed a career offender and thus is ineligible under" Section 3582(c)(2). Hegwood filed again to apply the new Sentencing Guidelines retroactively, which the district court denied in June 2016.

         In January 2019, Hegwood filed a motion for appointment of counsel and a sentencing hearing. In that motion, Hegwood invoked the First Step Act of 2018, which allowed the court to reduce his sentence by making the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactive. The effect would be to change his Guidelines range to 151-188 months, less than his original 200-month sentence. In addition, the motion argued that after United States v. Tanksley, 848 F.3d 347, 352 (5th Cir.), opinion supplemented, 854 F.3d 284 (5th Cir. 2017), he no longer qualified for the career-offender enhancement. Without that enhancement, his Guidelines range would be reduced to 77-96 months.

         In February 2019, the probation office issued a "First Step Act Addendum to the Presentence Report," which concluded that a statutory mandatory minimum penalty was no longer applicable and that the statutory range of imprisonment for Hegwood was now zero to twenty years. The PSR Addendum calculated Hegwood's new offense level at 32, which includes a career offender enhancement and credit for acceptance of responsibility. The Guidelines range was therefore 151-188 months. The PSR recounted Hegwood's post-sentencing conduct and noted that the court should consider the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors in determining whether a reduction is warranted and the extent of such reduction. Hegwood responded, arguing that since new caselaw meant none of his prior convictions would justify a career-offender enhancement, his Guidelines range should be 77-96 months.

         After a hearing, the district court left the career-offender enhancement in place, holding it was "going to resentence [Hegwood] on the congressional change and that alone." The court then sentenced Hegwood to 153 months in prison, which, consistent with the previous sentence, was imposed after the credit for ...


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