US v. Joshua Hall

Filing 920090217

Opinion

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UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 07-4737 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. JOSHUA LACY HALL, Defendant - Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, at Greensboro. William L. Osteen, Senior District Judge. (1:06-cr-00299-WLO) Submitted: January 30, 2009 Decided: February 17, 2009 Before WILKINSON, NIEMEYER, and AGEE, Circuit Judges. Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion. Thomas H. Johnson, Jr., GRAY JOHNSON BLACKMON LEE & LAWSON, LLP, Greensboro, North Carolina, for Appellant. Anna Mills Wagoner, United States Attorney, David P. Folmar, Jr., Assistant United States Attorney, Greensboro, North Carolina, for Appellee. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. PER CURIAM: Joshua Lacy Hall appeals the 140-month sentence he received following his guilty plea to one count of conspiring to manufacture 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(A), 846 (2006). Hall's sole contention on appeal is that the district court erred in not awarding him a reduction for his acceptance of responsibility, as authorized by U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual ("USSG") 3E1.1 (2006). For the reasons set forth below, we affirm. We review a sentencing court's decision to grant or deny a reduction for the defendant's acceptance of responsibility for clear error. United States v. Kise, 369 F.3d 766, 771 (4th Cir. 2004); United States v. May, 359 F.3d 683, 688 (4th Cir. 2004). "A finding is `clearly erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." United States v. Dugger, 485 F.3d 236, 239 (4th Cir. 2007) (quoting United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)). district court's decision to grant or deny an Id. We accord the acceptance (citing of responsibility reduction great deference. USSG 3E1.1, cmt. n.5 (2005)). Pursuant to USSG 3E1.1, a defendant may be given a two- or three-level reduction in his offense level if he clearly 2 demonstrates offense. must that he has accepted responsibility for the In order to receive such a reduction, "the defendant by a preponderance and of the evidence that he has prove clearly recognized affirmatively accepted personal responsibility for his criminal conduct." May, 359 F.3d at 693 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Hall maintains he was eligible for the reduction by virtue of his guilty plea, despite the fact that, after pleading guilty, he informed the probation officer that he wished to withdraw his guilty plea and that he was not involved in selling or manufacturing methamphetamine. Hall's argument fails. A guilty plea reflects some level of acceptance of responsibility, but does not automatically entitle a defendant to the reduction. USSG 3E1.1, cmt. n.3; May, 359 F.3d at 693. 3 to 3E1.1 clearly establishes that it is Application Note a guilty plea "combined with truthfully admitting the conduct comprising the offense of conviction" that is "significant evidence of acceptance of responsibility." Although Hall did admit his illegal conduct at the Fed. R. Crim. P. 11 hearing, his statements to the probation officer denying his involvement in the conspiracy and indicating his desire to withdraw his guilty plea negated the impact of that admission. Application Note 3 establishes that a guilty plea "may be outweighed by conduct . . . that is inconsistent 3 with n.3. such acceptance is the of responsibility." here, as USSG 3E1.1, cmt. That case Hall's post-admission recantation of his guilt and his denial of his role in the charged offense is clearly inconsistent with accepting responsibility. court erred in See May, 359 F.3d at 693-95 (finding district permitting alia, reduction that when presentence denied the report facts indicated, inter defendant underlying the offense). Although Hall attempted to minimize the significance of his statements at sentencing by averring that he "accept[ed] responsibility for the amount that me and the Government have agreed to" and offering were a statement to we accepting responsibility, acceptance of these efforts insufficient Accordingly, demonstrate responsibility. conclude the district court did not clearly err in declining to grant the reduction. For the foregoing reasons, we reject Hall's argument on appeal and affirm the district court's judgment. We dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before the court and argument would not aid the decisional process. AFFIRMED 4

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