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United States v. Wright

United States District Court, D. Maryland

March 9, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CALVIN WRIGHT, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

          Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge

         This criminal case involved multiple charges against ten defendants. Two of those defendants, Johnnie Butler and Calvin Wright, proceeded to trial before the Honorable Benson E. Legg, beginning in January 2010. This Memorandum addresses Wright's motion for reduction of sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and U.S.S.G. Amendment 782, filed by counsel on his behalf. ECF 642 (“Motion”). The government opposes the Motion. ECF 647. Wright has replied. ECF 656.

         No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant the Motion.

         I. Background

         On January 29, 2010, following a thirteen-day trial on a Fourth Superseding Indictment (ECF 321), [1] a jury in the District of Maryland convicted Wright of Count One, conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A) and (b)(1)(C). See ECF 383 (Jury Verdict, filed 2/2/10). Wright was also convicted of Count Three, charging possession of a firearm on September 11, 2008, in furtherance of the drug conspiracy, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i). Id. And, he was convicted of Count Four, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Id. Finally, he was convicted of Count Five, charging possession with intent to distribute heroin on September 11, 2008, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C). Id.[2]

         Wright was sentenced on April 28, 2010. ECF 419. According to Judge Legg, the defendant had a total offense level of 40 and a criminal history category of IV, with total advisory sentencing guidelines of 360 months to life imprisonment for Count One. ECF 426. In particular, Judge Legg sentenced Wright to a term of 360 months as to Count One; the mandatory minimum sentence of 60 months, consecutive, as to Count Three; 120 months, concurrent, as to Count Four; and 240 months, concurrent, as to Count Five, for a total term of imprisonment of 420 months (35 years). ECF 425 (Judgment) at 2.

         Thereafter, Wright noted an appeal. ECF 428. The Fourth Circuit affirmed on May 18, 2011 (ECF 509) and the mandate issued on June 9, 2011. ECF 511.

         On August 8, 2012, Wright filed a motion to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. On August 9, 2012, the case was reassigned to me, due to the retirement of Judge Legg. On October 1, 2014, I ordered the appointment of counsel for Mr. Wright. ECF 594.

         Butler filed a post-conviction motion on November 26, 2012. See ECF 564. On January 15, 2015, during the course of post-conviction proceedings as to Butler, the government submitted the affidavit of the former lead prosecutor, George Hazel. ECF 611-1. By that time, the former prosecutor had become a member of this Court and, as such, one of my colleagues.

         Therefore, on January 16, 2015, I recused myself from further consideration of the case and requested an out-of-district assignment of another judge. ECF 612.

         On February 3, 2015, Butler's case was transferred to Judge David Faber, who serves in West Virginia. See Docket. A few days later, Wright's case was also transferred to Judge Faber.

         Of relevance here, by Order of September 30, 2016, Judge Faber denied Wright's motion to vacate under § 2255. See ECF 641. Judge Faber subsequently issued a comprehensive, well reasoned Memorandum Opinion and Order on October 13, 2016 (ECF 644), which he subsequently amended (ECF 648), providing the basis for his denial of Wright's § 2255 motion and denying a certificate of appealability. ECF 648. The Fourth Circuit subsequently denied a certificate of appealability and dismissed Wright's appeal on February 22, 2017. ECF 655. The Mandate issued on April 17, 2017.

         On October 11, 2016, soon after Judge Faber had ruled, Wright filed a motion to reduce sentence, through counsel, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and U.S.S.G. Amendment 782. See ECF 642. At that time, the case was still assigned to Judge Faber. The case was reassigned to me on ...


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