and Submitted September 7, 2018 San Francisco, California
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of California D.C. No. 2:11-cr-00135-JAM-1 John A.
Mendez, District Judge, Presiding
Hitt (argued), Assistant United States Attorney; Camil A.
Skipper, Appellate Chief; McGregor Scott, United States
Attorney; United States Attorney's Office, Sacramento,
California; for Plaintiff-Appellant.
P. Balazs (argued), Sacramento, California, for
Before: Marsha S. Berzon and Michelle T. Friedland, Circuit
Judges, and Kathleen Cardone, [*] District Judge.
panel reversed the district court's order granting Emilio
Huaracha Rodriguez's motion pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(2) for reduction of sentence in light of Sentencing
Guidelines Amendment 782, and remanded for supplemental
panel clarified that, under United States v.
Mercado-Moreno, 869 F.3d 942 (9th Cir. 2017), drug
quantities in an adopted presentence investigation report,
without an explicit and specific drug quantity finding by the
original sentencing judge, are not binding in §
3582(c)(2) proceedings. The panel held that because the judge
at Rodriguez's initial sentencing did not make a specific
finding of drug quantity, and Rodriguez did not admit to a
specific drug quantity beyond the quantity necessary to
determine the appropriate Guidelines range, there were no
binding drug quantity findings or admissions that bound the
district court at the later § 3582(c)(2) proceedings.
panel held that if, as here, the district court at the
original sentencing did not make a specific drug quantity
finding, the proper course is for the district court to
engage in supplemental fact-finding to determine whether the
defendant is eligible for a sentence reduction under §
3582(c)(2). The panel therefore remanded to the district
court for supplemental findings of drug quantity and, if
Judge Cardone dissented because she believes the district
court made a sufficiently specific finding as to drug
quantity during Rodriguez's original sentencing hearing
that renders him ineligible for a reduced sentence under
BERZON, CIRCUIT JUDGE:
central question is whether uncontested drug quantities in a
court-adopted presentence investigation report
("PSR") constitute specific drug quantity findings
that bind district courts in subsequent 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(2) sentence reduction proceedings. We clarify that,
without an explicit and specific drug quantity finding by the
original sentencing judge, drug quantities in an adopted PSR
are not binding in § 3582(c)(2) proceedings.
therefore reverse and remand to the district court for
supplemental findings of drug quantity and, if appropriate,
begin with the statutory framework for deciding sentence
reduction motions. Ordinarily, a federal court "may not
modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed."
18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). Congress has, however, provided a
narrow exception to this rule of finality. A court may modify
a defendant's term of imprisonment if the defendant was
"sentenced . . . based on a sentencing range that has
subsequently been lowered" pursuant to a retroactive
amendment to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines
("Guidelines"). Id. The purpose of this
limited exception is to provide the defendant with "the
benefit of later enacted adjustments to the judgments
reflected in the [Sentencing] Guidelines" without
engaging in plenary resentencing proceedings. United
States v. Mercado-Moreno, 869 F.3d 942, 948 (9th Cir.
2017) (alteration in original) (quoting Dillon v. United
States, 560 U.S. 817, 828 (2010)).
3582(c)(2) sets forth a two-step inquiry for determining
whether a defendant is entitled to sentence reduction. At the
first step, the reviewing district court decides eligibility
by determining whether a reduction is consistent with U.S.
Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 1B1.10, the policy
statement that implements § 3582(c)(2). Dillon,
560 U.S. at 826; see also 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(2). Section 1B1.10 permits a reduction if, but only
if, the amendment has the "effect of lowering the
defendant's applicable [G]uideline[s] range." U.S.
Sentencing Guidelines Manual ("U.S.S.G.") §
1B1.10(a)(2)(B). A court determines whether the
retroactive amendment lowered the defendant's Guidelines
range by calculating the "amended [G]uideline[s] range
that would have been applicable to the defendant if the
[relevant amendment] to the [G]uidelines . . . had been in
effect at the time the defendant was sentenced."
Id. § 1B1.10(b)(1). Only "the relevant
amendment for the 'corresponding guideline provisions . .
. applied when the defendant was sentenced'" may be
considered in the first step of the analysis, and the court
"must 'leave all other guideline application
decisions unaffected.'" Mercado-Moreno, 869
F.3d at 949 (quoting U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(b)(1)).
district court is generally prohibited from reducing a
sentence if the reduction would place the defendant's
term of imprisonment below the lower end of the amended
Guidelines range. See U.S.S.G. §
1B1.10(b)(2)(A). The only exception is when the
defendant's original term of imprisonment is below the
Guidelines range because he or she received a reduction for
substantially assisting authorities and the revised term is
comparably below the amended Guidelines range. See
id. at § 1B1.10(b)(2)(B).
second step, the court must consider all applicable 18 U.S.C.
§ 3553(a) factors and determine whether, in its
discretion, "the authorized reduction is warranted,
either in whole or in part." Dillon, 560 U.S.
at 826; see also 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(2). But the court's consideration of the
§ 3553(a) factors may not "serve to transform the
proceedings under § 3582(c)(2) into plenary resentencing
proceedings." Dillon, 560 U.S. at 827.
Guidelines use a drug quantity table, based on drug type and
weight, to establish the base offense levels for drug-related
offenses, with a maximum of level 38. See U.S.S.G.
§ 2D1.1(c). Amendment 782, adopted by the U.S.
Sentencing Commission ("Commission") in 2014,
modified the drug quantity table by reducing the base offense
level for most drugs and quantities by two levels. U.S.S.G.
supp. app. C. amend. 782 (Nov. 1, 2014). Shortly thereafter,
the Commission made Amendment 782 retroactive for defendants,
like Rodriguez, who had been sentenced before the change to
the Guidelines. U.S.S.G. supp. app. C amend. 788 (Nov. 1,
2014). Pursuant to Amendment 782, the quantity of actual
methamphetamine that triggers the maximum base offense level
of 38 moved from 1.5 kilograms to 4.5 kilograms. See
U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(a)(5), (c)(1).
2011, the California Highway Patrol conducted a traffic stop
of Emilio Huaracha Rodriguez, a suspected drug trafficker, in
Sacramento County. A drug detection dog alerted to
Rodriguez's vehicle, and a search revealed 11 pounds
(roughly 4.9 kilograms or 4, 989 grams) of methamphetamine.
After a search of Rodriguez's vehicle, law enforcement
officers obtained a search warrant for his apartment. There,
the officers found an additional quantity of methamphetamine
and various types of drug paraphernalia. Rodriguez was
charged with ...