Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Mills: Mandatory Minimum Crack Offenders Not Eligible for Crack Amendment Reductions

In U.S. v. Mills, No. 08-11760 (Aug. 5, 2010), the Court rejected the argument that defendants convicted of a crack cocaine offense who were originally subject to mandatory minimum sentences, but received substantial assistance sentence reductions below the mandatory minimums, could, in a proceeding for reduction of sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), get the benefit of the Sentencing Commission’s 2007 amendment to the crack cocaine Guidelines.

The Court reasoned that the defendants were ineligible for the Guideline amendments, because their original sentences were based on the statutory mandatory minimum. The Court noted that in U.S. v. Moore it had held that career offenders were categorically ineligible for the Guideline amendment reductions. Further, in U.S. v. Williams, it had held that a defendant was ineligible for the Guideline amendment reductions because he was sentenced to a mandatory minimum under the drug statute, based on his two prior convictions. The Court rejected concerns about the “arbitrariness” of its result: “To the extent that defendants believe that . . . the Guidelines led to ‘arbitrary’ results in their cases, their redress is with Congress and the mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses it has set.”