United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Central Division
ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANT'S PETITION FOR RELIEF
PURSUANT TO RULE 11(C)(1)(C) IN LIGHT OF SUPREME COURT
DECISION “HUGHES V. UNITED STATES” 138 S.CT.
W. BENNETT, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
case is before me on defendant Jolene Lauree Sorenson's
July 26, 2018, pro se Petition For Relief Pursuant
To Rule 11(c)(1)(C) In Light Of Supreme Court Decision
“Hughes v. United States” 138 S.CT. 1040 (2018).
In her motion, Sorenson seeks a reduction based on Amendment
782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
March 18, 2009, Sorensen was charged in a three-count
indictment with drug offenses. Count 1 charged her with
conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of a
methamphetamine mixture and 50 grams or more of actual (pure)
methamphetamine, after a prior felony drug conviction, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 851. Count 2
charged her with possessing with intent to distribute 50
grams or more of a methamphetamine mix and 5 grams or more of
actual (pure) methamphetamine, after a prior felony drug
conviction, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1),
841(b)(1)(B), and 851. Count 3 charged her with distribution
of an unspecified amount of methamphetamine, after a prior
felony drug conviction, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C), and 851. On January 25,
2010, Sorensen pleaded guilty to Counts 1 and 2 pursuant to a
Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement, in which the parties agreed
upon a sentence of 180 months and dismissal of Count 3. On
April 26, 2010, I sentenced Sorensen to the agreed sentence
of 180 months on Counts 1 and 2 and dismissed Count 3.
Judgment entered accordingly on April 28, 2010.
17, 2015, on my own motion, I considered whether Sorenson was
entitled to a reduction in sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§ 3582(c)(2) and Amendment 782 to the United States
Sentencing Guidelines. At that time, I denied such a
reduction, under circuit precedent, because Sorensen had
entered into a plea agreement under Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and her sentence was
predicated on an agreed upon sentence rather than a
sentencing range. See Order Regarding Motion For
Sentence Reduction Pursuant To 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2),
3-4 (citing United States v. Williams, 598 F.3d 963,
946 (8th Cir. 2010)).
motion now before me, Sorenson seeks a reduction pursuant to
§ 3582(c)(2), because, on June 4, 2018, the Supreme
Court decided Hughes v. United States, 138 S.Ct.
1765 (2018), which removed the impediment to §
3582(c)(2) relief in cases in which a defendant entered into
a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement. The controlling question
in Hughes was “whether a defendant may seek
relief under § 3582(c)(2) if he entered a plea agreement
specifying a particular sentence under Federal Rule of
Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C), ” which the Court noted
“is sometimes referred to as a ‘Type-C
agreement.'” 138 S.Ct. at 1773. The Court held
that, even in a case involving such a plea agreement,
“relief under § 3582(c)(2) should be available to
permit the district court to reconsider a prior sentence to
the extent the prisoner's Guidelines range was a relevant
part of the framework the judge used to accept the agreement
or determine the sentence.” Id. at 1778. Thus,
Sorenson's Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement no longer
necessarily bars § 3582(c)(2) relief.
other hand, as the Court explained in Hughes,
“If the district court concludes that it would have
imposed the same sentence even if the defendant had been
subject to the lower [guidelines] range, then the court
retains discretion to deny relief [under §
3582(c)(2)].” Id. In Sorenson's case, I
sentenced Sorenson to an agreed sentence of 180 months. Her
statutory mandatory minimum sentence was 120 months. Her
advisory guidelines range was 262 months to 327 months, based
on a career offender enhancement, arising from her extensive
criminal history beginning in 1975 and including convictions
for multiple drug-related offenses, and the offenses at issue
in this court were committed less than two years after her
release from custody on state charges. Here, I conclude that
I would have imposed the same 180-month sentence, which is a
substantial downward variance from Sorenson's advisory
guidelines range, even if Sorenson had been subject to the
lower guidelines range pursuant to Amendment 782, in light of
her criminal history, offense conduct, personal
characteristics, and other 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors,
as set out in the Final Presentence Investigation Report. In
these circumstances, I exercise my discretion to deny her
relief under § 3582(c)(2). Hughes, 138 S.Ct. at
is not eligible for a sentence reduction pursuant to §
3582(c)(2) for another reason, as well. Because
Sorenson's guidelines sentence was calculated on the
basis that she was a career offender, see U.S.S.G.
§ 4B1.1, Amendment 782 (subject to subsection (e)(1))
does not impact her advisory guidelines range, so a sentence
reduction is not available. See, e.g., United States v.
Reeves, 717 F.3d 647, 649-50 (8th Cir. 2013) (discussing
eligibility for a reduced sentence in light of career
offender status). More specifically, even if Sorenson's
Adjusted Offense Level were reduced pursuant to Amendment
782, her total offense level would have ultimately remained
the same pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, as would her
criminal history category, and her advisory guidelines
sentence, even after application of Amendment 782, would
still be 262 months to 327 months.
defendant Jolene Lauree Sorenson's July 26, 2018, pro
se Petition For Relief Pursuant To Rule 11(c)(1)(C) In
Light Of Supreme Court Decision “Hughes v. United
States” 138 S.CT. 1040 (2018) (docket no. 51) is