USA v. Frederick Harri
Per Curiam OPINION filed : The jugment of the district court is AFFIRMED. Decision not for publication. Alice M. Batchelder, Ronald Lee Gilman, and Julia Smith Gibbons, Circuit Judges.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 14a0755n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
FREDERICK M. HARRIS,
Oct 01, 2014
DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED
STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR
THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF
BEFORE: BATCHELDER, GILMAN, and GIBBONS, Circuit Judges.
PER CURIAM. Frederick M. Harris, a federal prisoner, appeals through counsel the
200-month sentence imposed following his guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to distribute
A presentence report was prepared in this case, which indicated that Harris was a career
offender, based on at least two previous controlled-substance offenses. Harris was in the highest
possible criminal history category regardless of his career offender status, based on a list of
convictions fifteen pages long. The guidelines range was calculated at 188 to 235 months of
imprisonment. Harris filed a sentencing memorandum in which he argued that a sentence within
the range would be excessive. He cited a Sentencing Commission report to the effect that the
recidivism rate for career offenders with only prior drug offenses, as opposed to crimes of
violence, is only 27 percent. He asked for a sentence of 74 months, calculated without the career
offender offense level, and argued that his co-defendants received sentences of 65 months or
United States v. Harris
less. At the sentencing hearing, the district court noted that comparison with the sentences
received by co-defendants was not necessary, but that comparison should be made with others
convicted of this offense nationwide. The court noted that the average sentence in 2011 was 172
months, and the average guidelines minimum was 225 months. The court also responded to the
argument about recidivism, citing a Bureau of Justice statistic showing that someone with a
record comparable to Harris’s had an 82 percent chance of recidivism. The district court found
no basis for a downward variance. The district court contrasted this situation with one in which
the court granted a downward variance to 120 months for a career offender who had only two
prior controlled-substance convictions and no others. After Harris allocuted and the government
moved for consideration of his cooperation in a state case, the district court determined to
sentence Harris to 35 months less than the maximum guidelines sentence it had originally
In his brief before this court, Harris argues that his sentence is substantively unreasonable
because the district court assumed that he would reoffend and failed to consider the sentencing
factors. He also argues that his sentence is procedurally unreasonable because the district court
did not give notice of its intent to rely on the statistics it cited and did not respond to his
argument for leniency.
We review the substantive reasonableness of a sentence under an abuse-of-discretion
standard. United States v. Herrera-Zuniga, 571 F.3d 568, 581 (6th Cir. 2009). No abuse of
discretion is apparent in the alleged assumption by the district court that Harris would reoffend,
given his criminal record to date. The record demonstrates that far from failing to discuss the
sentencing factors, the court addressed the sentencing factors comprehensively.
explanation of the relevance of the sentencing factors is not required where the sentence is within
United States v. Harris
the guidelines range, and such a sentence is entitled to a presumption of reasonableness. United
States v. Lapsins, 570 F.3d 758, 774 (6th Cir. 2009).
We review the procedural reasonableness of a sentence for plain error where the
defendant did not raise his objections below. See United States v. Bostic, 371 F.3d 865, 872-73
(6th Cir. 2004). Nor did the district court plainly err in relying on statistics for the average
nationwide sentence for this offense in response to the argument in the sentencing memorandum
that the sentence should be compared to those of the co-defendants. The district court correctly
noted that the appropriate comparison was not with the sentences of co-defendants but with the
sentences of nationwide defendants with similar criminal histories. United States v. Mitchell,
681 F.3d 867, 883 (6th Cir. 2012); United States v. Presley, 547 F.3d 625, 631 (6th Cir. 2008).
The citation to recidivism statistics was also in response to the reliance by Harris on such
statistics in his sentencing memorandum. The cases cited by Harris, such as United States v.
Hayes, 171 F.3d 389 (6th Cir. 1999), are inapposite because they involved situations where the
sentencing judge was given information that was unavailable to the defendant, and not publicly
available statistics such as those Harris himself relied on in his memorandum. Nor does the
record support the claim that the district court failed to respond to the argument for leniency. In
fact, the transcript shows that the district court expressly addressed the arguments raised in the
sentencing memorandum and considered the allocution by Harris in deciding to sentence him at
200 months rather than the 235-month maximum of the guidelines range the court was originally
Finding no abuse of discretion or plain error in the sentencing proceeding, and
concluding that a different sentence was not required in this case, see United States v. Brown,
579 F.3d 672, 687 (6th Cir. 2009), we affirm the district court’s judgment.
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