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Sentencing — crack cocaine

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit


Sentencing — crack cocaine

Although a judge may not deny a motion for reduction in sentence for crack-related offenses, because of the defendant’s requests for post-conviction relief, it is not an abuse of discretion where the district court deciding a request for a reduced sentence takes into account a defendant’s false statements to the court.

“Our decision today should not be read as endorsing denials of section 3582(c)(2) motions based solely on vexatious litigation or post-conviction filings that skirt or challenge the appellate and section 2255 waivers in plea bargains. The repeated filing of frivolous motions is undoubtedly aggravating for judges with busy dockets. Frustration in the face of repeated post-conviction filings is understandable, but it is not a consideration contemplated by section 3582(c)(2) or the Sentencing Commission. Federal courts recognize that prison officials may not retaliate against a prisoner for filing lawsuits against those officials. See, e.g., Higgs v. Carver, 286 F.3d 437, 439 (7th Cir. 2002) (reversing dismissal); Babcock v. White, 102 F.3d 267, 276 (7th Cir. 1996) (reversing grant of qualified immunity; prisoner’s right to be free from retaliation for exercising rights to challenge conditions of confinement was clearly established). It would not be appropriate or permissible for federal courts to retaliate for similar reasons. While there is language in the district court’s decision that expresses understandable frustration with Purnell’s litigation, we think it is clear that the district court did not base its denial of the section 3582(c)(2) motion on annoyance with his post-conviction filings. Rather, the district court concluded that Purnell made repeated false statements to the court and that this post-conviction conduct was contrary to the award of a discretionary sentence reduction.”


12-1283 U.S. v. Purnell

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Bucklo, J., Hamilton, J.

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