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United States v. Key

April 28, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
ROGER KEY, ALSO KNOWN AS "LUCHIE," DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Appeal from a June 13, 2008 order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Denise Cote, Judge) denying a motion for a reduction of sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Since the District Court entered its order, defendant has been released from prison. We hold that, even if we were to reverse the District Court's denial of defendant's motion for a reduction of sentence, the possibility that the District Court would, on remand, terminate defendant's supervised release under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(1) is too "remote and speculative" to "satisf[y] the case-or-controversy requirement of Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution." United States v. Williams, 475 F.3d 468, 478-79 (2d Cir. 2007) (quotation marks omitted).

We therefore dismiss this appeal as moot.

Per curiam.

Argued April 20, 2010

Before MINER, CABRANES, and WESLEY, Circuit Judges.

We address here one circumstance in which an appellate challenge to a criminal sentence has been rendered moot by a defendant's release from custody. Defendant-appellant Roger Key ("defendant") appeals from a June 13, 2008 order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Denise Cote, Judge) denying a motion for a reduction of sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). We hold that, even if we were to reverse the District Court's denial of defendant's motion for a reduction of sentence, the possibility that the District Court would, on remand, terminate defendant's supervised release under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(1) is too "remote and speculative" to "satisf[y] the case-or-controversy requirement of Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution." United States v. Williams, 475 F.3d 468, 478-79 (2d Cir. 2007) (quotation marks omitted).

BACKGROUND

In 1997, defendant-appellant Roger Key was convicted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Denise Cote, Judge) of one count of violating 18 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) and § 846 by conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of "crack cocaine." The District Court sentenced defendant principally to 135 months' imprisonment.

Following defendant's conviction, the United States Sentencing Commission instituted a two-level, retroactive reduction to the offense level of the United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.) for crimes relating to crack cocaine. See generally United States v. Main, 579 F.3d 200, 202 (2d Cir. 2009). Defendant then moved in the District Court for a reduction of his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), which provides that a court "may" modify a term of imprisonment "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."

After considering "the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) and public safety issues," as well as "the parties' submissions, the record before the Court at the time sentence was originally imposed, and the transcript of the sentencing proceeding," the District Court denied defendant's motion for a reduced sentence. Defendant filed a timely appeal of the District Court's June 13, 2008 order denying his motion.

While this appeal was pending, defendant was released from prison. He is currently serving a statutory minimum five-year term of supervised release. See 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A).

DISCUSSION

An appellate challenge to a criminal sentence is "rendered moot" when the defendant has been "release[d] from prison" and when there is either "no possibility" or only a "'remote and speculative'" possibility that "the district court could [or would] impose a reduced term of supervised release were we to remand for resentencing." Williams, 475 F.3d at 479 (quoting United States v. Blackburn, 461 F.3d 259, 262 (2d Cir. 2006)).

The government argues that this appeal is moot because defendant has been released from prison and his five-year term of supervised release is the statutory minimum. According to the government, that leaves "no possibility" that the District Court ...


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