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United States v. Womack

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

August 12, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
GREGORY C. WOMACK, Defendant-Appellee.

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma (D.C. No. 5:98-CR-00084-C-1)

         Submitted on the briefs.[*]

          Steven W. Creager (Mark A. Yancey, United States Attorney, with him on the briefs), Assistant United States Attorney, Office of the United States Attorney, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

          Susan M. Otto, Federal Public Defender, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Defendant-Appellee.

          Before TYMKOVICH Chief Judge, BACHARACH and MORITZ, Circuit Judges.

          BACHARACH, Circuit Judge.

         This appeal grew out of the sentencing and resentencing of Mr. Gregory Womack, who was convicted of federal crimes involving the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine. In a prior appeal, we upheld the initial sentence based on the sentencing guidelines in effect at the time of the crimes. But after issuance of our decision, the U.S. Sentencing Commission adopted two guideline amendments: Amendment 782 and Amendment 750. Amendment 782 lowered the base offense levels for certain drug weights. But Amendment 750 had the opposite effect for crimes involving methamphetamine, promulgating a revised drug-equivalency table in which each gram of methamphetamine had a higher marijuana-equivalent weight than when Mr. Womack had committed his crimes.

         If both amendments were considered together, Mr. Womack's guideline range would remain what it had been at the time of the crimes. If Amendment 782 were considered in isolation, though, the guideline range would be reduced and Mr. Womack would be eligible for a sentence reduction.

         Mr. Womack successfully moved for a reduction in his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), arguing to the district court that the only relevant amendment was Amendment 782. We disagree. In our view, Amendment 750 was also relevant and precluded Mr. Womack from obtaining a reduction in his sentence.

         1. The guideline range is based partly on drug weight, which involves a conversion to marijuana equivalents when multiple drugs are involved.

         In 1998, Mr. Womack was convicted of crimes involving methamphetamine. Nonetheless, the district court found that Mr. Womack's relevant conduct also involved cocaine and marijuana. For sentencing, all of these drugs could be considered. See U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1 applic. note 5 (2014).[1]

         To incorporate these drugs into Mr. Womack's sentence, the district court had to quantify their weights. The court then added these weights and used the total to calculate the guideline range; the greater the weight, the harsher the guideline range. See 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1) (2012); U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c) (2014).

         When only a single drug is involved, calculation of the weight is simple. But when multiple drugs are involved, they must be combined. To combine these drug weights, the court must convert the various drugs into an equivalent marijuana unit. See U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1, applic. note 8(B) (2014). The district court did so, converting all of the drug weights to their marijuana equivalents and adding these figures.

         2. The district court imposed concurrent sentences of 360 months and 240 months.

         The sum was a marijuana equivalent of 33, 592.6547 kilograms, which corresponded to a final offense level of 42 and triggered a guideline range of 360 months to life imprisonment. Using this guideline range, the court imposed concurrent terms of 360 months and 240 months. On direct appeal, we held that the final offense level should have been 40 (rather than 42) and that the marijuana equivalent should have been roughly 26, 000 kilograms (rather than 33, 592.6547 kilograms). Even with these corrections, ...


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