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United States v. Mosley

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama

May 7, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
SHEDRICK MOSLEY

          OPINION

          MYRON H. THOMPSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant Shedrick Mosley pled to or otherwise was found guilty of all six violations in an amended petition to revoke his supervised release. At the resumption of his sentencing on May 7, 2018, the court revoked his supervised release and sentenced him to a term of imprisonment of time served--approximately nine months--to be followed by two years and two months of supervised release. The court orally gave its reasons for doing so at sentencing; however, for the sake of clarity, this opinion set forth those reasons in more detail.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2010, Mosley pled guilty in this court to one count of Felon in Possession of a Firearm, see 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), which stemmed from an encounter involving an altercation over a box of cocaine. This court sentenced him to 63 months and 23 days in custody, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

         Mosley was released from prison in 2015 and placed on supervised release. Early the following year, he admitted to abusing illegal drugs during his supervision and was referred to substance abuse treatment. He attended an outpatient program but did not complete it due to active abuse of cocaine. Inpatient treatment was then recommended. While he completed a month-long inpatient program, his sobriety did not last long; about two weeks after finishing the program, in October 2016, he again tested positive for cocaine. He then failed to appear for scheduled drug tests on two consecutive days, also violating the orders of his probation officer. A revocation petition was filed charging him with (1) using cocaine, (2) not appearing for drug testing, and (3) not following the instruction of the probation officer by not attending drug testing when ordered to do so. He was jailed for several weeks pending resolution of the violations, and then pled guilty to them. The court put off sentencing to allow him to attend long-term residential drug treatment.

         Mosley completed that program successfully, performed well at his job during the program, and even married a person he had met before the program. However, a few weeks after completion of the program and return to his home town, he faced a challenge in his personal life and went back on cocaine. He then was stopped by police and swallowed cocaine immediately before the traffic stop; police found a personal use amount of crack cocaine in his car and charged him with cocaine possession. A week later, he tested positive for cocaine. The court found him guilty of three additional violations: (4) committing conduct constituting a state offense (that is, drug possession), (5) possession of cocaine, and (6) use of cocaine.

         At sentencing in August 2017, the court decided to continue sentencing on the six violations and to order a presentence mental-health evaluation at a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3552(b), to aid in fashioning an appropriate sentence. In explaining its reasons for doing so, and outlining its general approach in similar cases going forward, the court held that, where there is a reasonable basis to believe that a defendant's mental disease or defect--including a substance abuse disorder--contributed to the conduct underlying his or her conviction, the court should order a mental-health evaluation. See United States v. Mosley, 277 F.Supp.3d 1294, 1295 (M.D. Ala. 2017) (Thompson, J.). Such an evaluation, the court reasoned, is necessary to aid in fashioning an appropriate sentence, by helping to determine (1) how a defendant's mental disease or defect may mitigate his or her culpability for the offense conduct; and (2) what type of treatment, if any, the defendant should receive during supervised release. See Id. at 1295-96. “The bottom line is that, in meting out appropriate punishment, the court should make a good-faith attempt to ensure that the defendant is not inappropriately punished for having a disease, and, to the extent appropriate, receives rehabilitative treatment.” Id. at 1296. The mental-health evaluation was therefore to focus on these dual, overlapping issues of culpability (in the sense of possible mitigation) and treatment: the role, if any, Mosley's mental illness played in his charged conduct, and what treatment is recommended for his illness in light of his individual characteristics and history.

         BOP submitted the results of that study in February 2018, see Psychiatric Report (doc. no. 183), and, after a brief continuance due to logistical difficulties in transporting Mosley back to local custody, he came back before the court for sentencing in light of the BOP's report.

         II. LEGAL FRAMEWORK

         In fashioning an appropriate sentence for violations of supervised release, the court is bound to impose a sentence that is reasonable. See United States v. Sweeting, 437 F.3d 1105, 1106-07 (11th Cir. 2006). The factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) guide the court's determination of the reasonableness of a supervised-release-violation sentence. See Id. First, the court's sentence must be “sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the [following] purposes, ” 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a): the need for the sentence imposed to punish the offender, protect the public from the defendant, rehabilitate the defendant, deter others, and provide educational or vocational training and medical care. See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2). In addition, the court must consider: (1) the nature and circumstances of the offense; (2) the history and characteristics of the defendant; (3) the kinds of sentences available; (4) the sentencing range established by the Sentencing Guidelines; (5) any pertinent policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission; (6) the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct; and (7) the need for restitution. See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(1) & (3)-(7).

         Although the Sentencing Guidelines are merely advisory in the context of supervised-release-violation sentencing, see United States v. Hofierka, 83 F.3d 357, 361 (11th Cir. 1996), the court is still bound by § 3553(a)(4), as indicated above, to consider the applicable Guidelines sentencing range among other factors. In the context of revocation, that range is found by inputting the grade of violation and the defendant's criminal history category. The grade of violation in a petition that involves multiple violations is determined by the grade of the most serious offense. See U.S.S.G. § 7B1.1(b). The defendant's criminal history category is the category applicable at the time he or she was sentenced. See U.S.S.G. § 7B1.4(a).

         III. ANALYSIS

         The court begins its analysis by calculating the applicable guidelines range. The grade of the most serious violation in this case is Grade B. See Amended Petition to Revoke Supervised Release (doc. no. 157) at 2; U.S.S.G. § 7B.1(a)(2). Mosley's criminal history category as determined at sentencing for his original offense is V. A criminal history category of V and Grade B violation establish an advisory sentencing range of 18-24 months.

         If supervised release is revoked, the court may also require any term of imprisonment to be followed by a second term of supervised release, the length of which shall not exceed the length of supervised release authorized by statute for the original violation, less any term of imprisonment imposed for revocation. See 18 U.S.C. § 3583(h). The maximum term of supervised release for Mosley's original violation was three years, see 18 U.S.C. § 3583(b)(2), so the maximum combined length of any term of imprisonment and any additional term of supervised release ...


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