United States District Court, D. Minnesota
WILHELMINA M. WRIGHT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
convicted Defendant John Jacob Williams in July 2007 of three
offenses: (1) possessing with the intent to distribute more
than 50 grams of crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A)(iii); (2) conspiring to
distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine powder, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(b)(1)(A)(ii);
and (3) possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug
offense, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The Court
sentenced Williams to 300 months’ imprisonment.
Williams’s convictions were affirmed on direct appeal,
United States v. Williams, 557 F.3d 943 (8th Cir.
2009), and his multiple postconviction habeas motions have
been denied by this Court and the United States Court of
Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, see Williams v. United
States, 705 F.3d 293, 294 (8th Cir. 2013) (per curiam).
the Court is Williams’s April 18, 2019 pro se
letter seeking a reduction of his sentence, a modification to
the presentence investigation report, and access to certain
transcripts. Plaintiff United States of America opposes
letter, Williams argues that he is serving an illegal
sentence because he was not given the identities of his
co-conspirators. He also seeks a modification to his
presentence investigation report. The Court construes these
aspects of Williams’s letter as a successive habeas
motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. A successive habeas
motion under Section 2255 “must be certified . . . by a
panel of the appropriate court of appeals.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255(h). The record does not reflect that Williams has
received authorization from the Eighth Circuit to file a
successive habeas motion under Section 2255. Accordingly,
these aspects of Williams’s letter are denied.
also contends that his sentence should be reduced pursuant to
Section 404 of the First Step Act (FSA). See First
Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-391, § 404, 132 Stat.
5194 (2018). According to Williams, a reduction to his
sentence is warranted under the FSA because the statutory
penalties for Count 1, his crack cocaine conviction, have
district court may modify a term of imprisonment once it has
been imposed only to the extent “expressly permitted by
statute.” 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B). Under Section
404(b) of the FSA,
[a] court that imposed a sentence for a covered offense may,
on motion of the defendant, the Director of the Bureau of
Prisons, the attorney for the government, or the court,
impose a reduced sentence as if sections 2 and 3 of the Fair
Sentencing Act of 2010 . . . were in effect at the time the
covered offense was committed.
21 U.S.C. § 841 note (Application of Fair Sentencing
Act); Pub. L. No. 115-391, § 404(b), 132 Stat. 5194. The
Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 increased the quantity of cocaine
necessary to trigger the statutory minimum that applied to
Williams’s conviction of Count 1, 21 U.S.C. §
841(b)(1)(A)(iii), which is a “covered offense”
under the FSA, see 21 U.S.C. § 841 note
(Application of Fair Sentencing Act); Pub. L. No. 115-391,
§ 404(b), 132 Stat. 5194.
United States concedes that Williams is eligible for
a sentence reduction as to Count 1, his crack cocaine
conviction, because the amount of crack cocaine for which
Williams was responsible-255 grams-is now subject to a
10-year statutory minimum term of imprisonment. Approximately two
years after Williams’s sentence was imposed, Congress
enacted the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which increased the
amount of crack cocaine necessary to trigger certain
statutory mandatory minimum sentences. See Fair
Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372
(2010) (amending 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)(iii),
(B)(iii)); United States v. Spencer, No. 07-174(2),
2019 WL 3369792, at *2 (D. Minn. July 26, 2019) (recognizing
that the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 modified statutory
penalties for crack cocaine convictions). As such, the Court
agrees that Williams is eligible for a sentence
reduction under the FSA.
United States argues, however, that a sentencing reduction is
not warranted in this case because the FSA affects neither
the concurrent 240-month sentence imposed for Count 2,
Williams’s powder cocaine conviction, nor the
consecutive 60-month sentence imposed for Count 3,
Williams’s firearm conviction. Even when a defendant is
eligible for a sentencing reduction under Section 404 of the
FSA, the decision to grant such a reduction remains within
the district court’s discretion. 21 U.S.C. § 841
note (Application of Fair Sentencing Act); Pub. L. No.
115-391, § 404(b), 132 Stat. 5194 (“Nothing in
this section shall be construed to require a court to reduce
any sentence pursuant to this section.”).
the United States correctly observes that Williams’s
concurrent 20-year sentence for Count 2, his powder cocaine
conviction, is unaffected by the FSA and the Fair Sentencing
Act. See 21 U.S.C. § 841 note (Application of
Fair Sentencing Act); Pub. L. No. 115-391, § 404(a), 132
Stat. 5194; Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372;
Spencer, 2019 WL 3369792, at *2 (recognizing that
Fair Sentencing Act did not modify statutory
penalties for powder cocaine convictions). And
Williams’s consecutive 60-month sentence for Count 3,
his firearm offense, also is unaffected by the FSA and the
Fair Sentencing Act. See 21 U.S.C. § 841 note
(Application of Fair Sentencing Act); Pub. L. No. 115-391,
§ 404(a), 132 Stat. 5194; Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat.
2372. In his reply brief, Williams concedes that his motion
for a sentencing reduction pursuant to the FSA is limited to
the sentence imposed for his Count 1 crack cocaine
sentence reduction for Count 1 would not materially affect
Williams’s total length of imprisonment because it
would not impact the consecutive sentences imposed for Count
2 and Count 3, which total 300 months’ imprisonment.
Moreover, the concurrent 240-month sentences imposed for
Count 1 and Count 2 fall well below the applicable guidelines
range for those counts, which is 360 months to life in
prison. The Court acknowledges the considerable
self-improvement efforts Williams has undertaken while in
prison, and such efforts are commendable. But these facts do
not warrant a sentencing reduction under the FSA in this
Williams’s pro se letter seeks access to grand
jury and sentencing transcripts. But Williams has not cited
any legal authority that would warrant granting such a
request, and the Court is not aware of any. ...