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United States v. Matulich

United States District Court, D. Nevada

August 22, 2017



         Presently before the court is defendant Michael Paul Matulich's motion to reduce sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). (ECF No. 166). The government responded (ECF No. 169) and defendant replied (ECF No. 170).

         I. Facts

         Defendant was charged with and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and conspiracy to unlawfully deal in firearms in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1). (ECF No. 166 at 2). On December 10, 2012, the court sentenced Matulich to a total of 168 months (168 months for the controlled substance offense and 60 months for the firearms offense, concurrently) with five years of supervised release to follow. (Id.).

         The U.S. Probation Office applied the 2011 edition of the United States Sentencing Guidelines when preparing the presentence investigation report, which the court adopted without changes. (Id.). “The pertinent calculation, which is for [the controlled substance offense], applied a base offense level of 36 controlled by U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(a)(5) and (c)(2) for a quantity of 936 grams of actual methamphetamine.” (Id.). Pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3D1.4, a two-level enhancement was applied for multiple counts, resulting in an offense level of 38. (Id.). The total offense level was 32 after the court assessed a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility and a three-level reduction for a group plea. (Id.). Matulich's criminal history category was IV. (Id.).

         This gave Matulich a 2011-guideline range of 168 to 210 months. (Id.). The court imposed a low-end sentence of 168 months, with five years of supervised release to follow. (Id.).

         The United States Sentencing Commission promulgated U.S.S.G. Amendment 782 on November 12, 2014, which reduced all drug-offense levels by two. (Id.). Further, the Sentencing Commission included amendment 782 in § 1B1.10(d)'s list of retroactive amendments. See U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(d).

         On July 3, 2017, defendant filed the instant motion to reduce his sentence to the low end of the new guideline range, 135 to 168 months. (See ECF No. 166). Initially, the parties stipulated to stay the motion for two years pending an updated disciplinary report from the U.S. Probation Office. (Id. at 3); (see also ECF No. 169). Now, the government and probation recommend against any sentence reduction for Matulich. (ECF No. 169).

         II. Legal Standard

         Generally, “[t]he court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed.” 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). An exception is “in the case of a defendant who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 994(o).” Id.

         The decision to reduce a defendant's sentence under this exception is a two-pronged inquiry. Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817 (2010). First, the court must determine whether the defendant, by statute, is eligible for a reduction of his sentence. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). This step “requires the court to follow the Commission's instructions in § 1B1.10 to determine the prisoner's eligibility for a sentence modification and the extent of the reduction authorized.” Dillon, 560 U.S. at 827.

         Importantly, the statute “does not authorize a sentencing or resentencing proceeding.” Id. at 825. Instead, the motion is limited to whether the defendant is entitled to a reduction of his sentence “in circumstances specified by the Commission.” Id. Moreover, “the court shall not reduce the defendant's term of imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and this policy statement to a term that is less than the minimum of the amended guideline range . . . .” U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(b)(2)(A).

         Second, the court must “consider[] the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to the extent that they are applicable, if such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.” 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). Further, the court must determine whether “the reduction authorized by reference to the policies relevant at step one is warranted in whole or in part under the particular circumstances of the case.” Dillon, 560 U.S. at 827. The decision in this prong of the analysis is ultimately subject to the court's discretion. See United States v. Lightfoot, 626 F.3d 1092, 1094 (9th Cir. 2010); United States v. Dunn, 728 F.3d 1151, 1153 (9th Cir. 2013).

         III. Discussion

         Both parties agree that the first prong of the sentence reduction inquiry is satisfied. (See ECF Nos. 166, 169). Under the discretionary second prong of the test, the court needs ...

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