In U.S. v. Webb, No. 08-13405 (April 13, 2009) (Birch, Marcus, Anderson), the Court held that a crack cocaine offender was not eligible for a 2-level sentence reduction pursuant to Guideline Amendment 706 and 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). The Court also held that defendants are entitled to representation by counsel in § 3582(c)(2) proceedings only at the court’s discretion, and not as a matter of right.
Webb was originally sentenced pre-Booker, and given a career offender guideline level. This sentence was subsequently twice reduced based on the government’s filing of Rule 35(b) substantial assistance motions. Webb filed a § 3582(c)(2) motion to further reduce his sentence based on the 2-level crack cocaine Guideline Amendment. The district court denied this motion, reasoning that if Webb’s sentence were reduced two-levels from the original level 42 to level 40, under the career offender Guideline, his sentencing range would be unchanged at 360 months to life.
The Court affirmed. The Court noted that § 3582(c)(2) only provides for reductions when a Guideline amendment has reduced the "sentencing range." Here the sentencing range did not change. Further, Booker is inapplicable to § 3582(c)(2) motions, because it is a Supreme Court decision, not a retroactively applicable guideline amendment by the Sentencing Commission. The district court therefore did not err in refusing to use Booker as a basis for a sentence reduction.
The Court joined all other circuits to have considered the issue to rule that a defendant is not constitutionally or statutorily entitled to counsel in a § 3582(c)(2) sentence reduction proceeding. The proceeding "is simply a vehicle through which appropriately sentenced prisoners can urge the court to exercise leniency to give certain defendants the benefits of an amendment to the Guidelines." The Court noted that a defendant has no right to be present at a § 3582(c)(2) proceeding. Further, a § 3582(c)(2) proceeding does not qualify as an "ancillary" matter under 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(c). Consequently, the district court did not abuse its discretion in not appointing counsel for Webb.