The opinion of the court was delivered by: Martin, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
In the introduction to the Sentencing Guidelines the Sentencing
Commission noted: "Congress sought reasonable uniformity in
sentencing by narrowing the wide disparity in sentences imposed
for similar criminal offenses committed by similar offenders."
United States Sentencing Commission, Guidelines Manual, Ch. 1,
Pt. A, § 3 (Nov. 1998) ("U.S.S.G.").
Unfortunately, as prosecutors and the courts have endeavored to
apply the Guidelines to accomplish this laudable goal, we
sometimes overlook the fact that ending disparity in sentences
imposed for similar offenses by similar offenders was not the
only, or even the primary, congressional goal in adopting the
Guidelines. Equally important, "Congress sought proportionality
in sentencing through a system that imposes appropriately
different sentences for criminal conduct of differing severity."
Thus, Congress and the Commission recognized that there are two
distinct types of disparity in sentencing. The first is the
disparity found when two defendants who commit the same crime in
identical circumstances receive different sentences. The second
exists when the same sentence is imposed on two people whose
crimes or circumstances are significantly different.
Experience suggests that a rigid application of the Sentencing
Guidelines will eliminate the first type of disparity, but it
will do so by creating the second type. Congress' goal that
"appropriately different sentences [be imposed] for criminal
conduct of differing severity" can only be achieved if judges
recognize their obligation to depart from the guideline
sentencing range in appropriate cases.
Marvin Williams, the defendant, presents a picture that is all
too familiar to any District Judge sitting in an urban court.
Raised by a welfare mother in the housing projects of the Bronx,
Williams began using marijuana at age ten and was adjudged a
juvenile delinquent at the age of fifteen. At age nineteen he was
convicted in state court of Attempted Criminal Sale of a
Controlled Substance for having sold two glassine envelopes of
heroin to an undercover officer. Nine months later Williams was
convicted of selling one $10 dollar bag of crack to an undercover
officer. At age twenty-one Williams had his third state drug
conviction when he was arrested for selling crack on the street
and was found to have sixty-one crack vials in his possession.
In the present case Williams was convicted after a bench trial
for participating in the sale of twenty-nine grams of heroin to
undercover police officers. From the evidence at trial it is not
entirely clear what role Williams played in the transaction
although he was present when the heroin was delivered and helped
to count the money paid by the undercover policemen. It appears
that Jerome Mayfield ran the operation and that Williams simply
worked for him. It is also significant that although the
undercovers purchased drugs from Mayfield on four occasions,
Williams participated in only one of the transactions.
Because Williams' prior narcotics convictions make him subject
to sentencing enhancements as a career offender under § 4B1.1,
his total offense level is 34 and his criminal history category
is VI resulting in a guideline range of 262-327 months. Without
the career criminal enhancements Williams' offense level would be
20 and his criminal history category V resulting in a guideline
range of 63-78 months.
The defendant urges the Court to depart from the draconian
range of the career offender guidelines, relying on United
States v. Rivers, 50 F.3d 1126 (2d Cir. 1995), in which the
Second Circuit held:
We agree with the other circuits that section 4A1.3
manifests the Commission's view that a sentencing
judge should exercise discretion whenever the judge
concludes that the consequences of the mathematical
prior-history calculation, prescribed by sections
4A1.1 and 4A1.2, either underrepresent or
overrepresent the seriousness of a defendant's prior
record. We also agree that in the case of a defendant
whose offense level is raised by his criminal history
into career offender status, such discretion may ...