United States District Court, D. Maryland
know, by Memorandum and Order of May 16, 2016 (ECF 473, ECF
474), I denied Mr. Williams's "Motion for Reduced
Sentence Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) Based on
Retroactive Application of Amendment 782 to the U.S.
Sentencing Guidelines." ECF 457
("Motion"). Thereafter, Mr. Williams filed a motion
for reconsideration of the Court's Order (ECF 479,
"Motion to Reconsider"), supported by several
exhibits. The government opposes the Motion to Reconsider.
ECF 481 ("Opposition"). Williams has replied. ECF
undisputed that the defendant is subject to a mandatory
minimum sentence of ten years. The parties' dispute
concerns a potential reduction in sentence of 15 months, from
135 months to 120 months, for a defendant with a criminal
history category of I. Thus, Mr. Williams initially received
a substantial sentence and he would be left with a
substantial sentence even if his Motion were granted. It is
also undisputed that, if Mr. Williams were sentenced today,
his final offense level would be 31, not 33.
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion to Reconsider. For
the reasons that follow, I shall grant the Motion to
was a multi-defendant case. I incorporate here by reference
the facts and procedural history that I set forth in ECF 473.
For convenience, however, I will again review some of the
9, 2012, Mr. Williams entered a plea of guilty to a felony
drug offense, pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C).
See ECF 104; ECF 106. The Plea Agreement (ECF 106)
set forth the quantity of cocaine at issue. Id.
¶ 6(a). It also set forth Williams's anticipated
final offense level of 33. Id. ¶ 6(c). Notably,
¶ 5 of the Plea Agreement is captioned: "Advisory
Sentencing Guidelines Apply." In addition, the parties
stipulated to a proposed sentence of 135 months'
imprisonment. Id. ¶¶ 9, 10. However, the
Plea Agreement stated that there was no agreement as to the
defendant's criminal history or criminal history
category. Id. ¶ 7. Moreover, there was no
express reference in the Plea Agreement as to the
defendant's advisory sentencing guidelines range. But, it
is clear that the proposed sentence corresponded to the
bottom of the advisory sentencing guidelines for an offender
with a final offense level of 33 and a criminal history
category of I.
Motion to Reconsider, Mr. Williams sets forth several grounds
to support his request. He maintains: "The parties
explicitly agreed that the sentence would be determined by
the applicable guideline range." ECF 479 at 1. In this
regard, he reiterates that the Plea Agreement set forth the
drug quantity in issue and the defendant's offense level.
Id. And, he asserts that the parties "correctly
anticipated" a criminal history category of I for Mr.
Williams, reasoning that it is "the only
criminal history category that corresponds to a Level 33, and
135 month sentence." Id. at 2 (emphasis in ECF
479). Thus, Williams maintains that, for purposes of 18
U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), the sentencing range was evident in
the Plea Agreement, and the jointly proposed sentence of 135
months was based on the guidelines, even though the
guidelines range was not set forth in the Plea
addition, Mr. Williams contends that my ruling (ECF 473)
contains a "factual misapprehension" that warrants
reconsideration. See ECF 482 at 2. As he correctly
points out, I distinguished the case of United States v.
Reed, WDQ-09-0288, based on the erroneous belief that
the government had not opposed Mr. Reed's Amendment 782
motion. Mr. Williams has now provided various submissions
from Reed that demonstrate that the government had,
in fact, opposed Mr. Reed's sentence reduction motion,
although its opposition was not docketed, consistent with the
practice at the time. See ECF 479-2 at
has also attached to the Motion to Reconsider his sentencing
transcript of August 8, 2012 (ECF 479-1), claiming the
transcript "confirms what was evident from the Plea
Agreement: Mr. Williams was sentenced to the low-end of the
guideline corresponding to an offense level of 33, 135
months' imprisonment." ECF 482 at 3.
mindful that Justice Sotomayor cautioned in Freeman
that, to the extent the guidelines are a consideration in a C
plea, this must be evident from the four corners of the plea
agreement. Therefore, I shall merely reference the sentencing
transcript, without relying on it.
sentencing transcript reflects that, at the outset of
Williams's sentencing, I undertook the guidelines
calculation. Sentencing Transcript at ECF 479-1 at 4 ("I
recognize that this is a C plea under Rule 11(c)(1)(C) . . .
but notwithstanding the fact that it is a C plea, I believe I
still must correctly calculate the guidelines . . .").
After determining that the defendant's final offense
level was 33 and that his criminal history category was I, I
found that "the guideline range calls for imprisonment
for a period ranging from 135 to 168 months, and this is a C
plea, as indicated, in which the parties have agreed that the
appropriate sentence is 135 months." ECF 479-1 at 6.
the government's argument in support of the C plea, the
prosecutor stated, ECF 479-1 at 9-10:
Your Honor, as the Court is aware, the parties have agreed to
a sentence of 135 months imprisonment. The Court has
addressed the guidelines calculation and the criminal history
of Mr. Williams, as to which there's no objection, and
the guidelines range is 135 to 168 months. Therefore, the
C plea is for the low end of that guideline. (Emphasis
Williams also urges this Court to reconsider its ruling to
avoid "disparate treatment" of Mr. Williams, and
"to avoid a manifest injustice that would result from
treating Mr. Williams differently than similarly-situated
defendants who had entered into Rule 11(c)(1)(C) pleas in
this district." ECF 482 at 1-2. To support his argument,
Williams points to cases decided by other judges of this
Court, in which sentencing reductions were granted in
connection with C pleas involving plea agreements that lacked
an express reference to criminal history or a sentencing
guidelines range. These include Judge Blake's decision
in United States v. Bowman, CCB-11- 0114 and Judge
Quarles's decision in United States v. Reed,
WDQ-09-0288. I shall discuss these cases,
Opposition, the government claims that Williams has not
satisfied the standard for reconsideration under Rule
59(e). The government also reiterates its earlier
argument, explaining that, under Freeman v. United
States, 564 ...