USA v. Duane Ward
OPINION filed : We AFFIRM Ward s sentence revoking his term of supervised release and imposing a sentence of 24 months incarceration. Decision not for publication. Alice M. Batchelder (AUTHORING), Karen Nelson Moore, and John M. Rogers, Circuit Judges.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PUBLICATION
File Name: 15a0794n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
DUANE C. WARD,
Dec 04, 2015
DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT
COURT FOR THE WESTERN
DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE
BATCHELDER, MOORE, and ROGERS, Circuit Judges
ALICE M. BATCHELDER, Circuit Judge.
Defendant Duane C. Ward appeals the
judgment of sentence revoking his supervised release and sentencing him to an additional prison
term of 24 months, 10 months greater than the applicable Guidelines range. Ward argues that his
sentence is substantively unreasonable because the district court failed to give due consideration
to the evidence of his drug addiction and consequent need of treatment. For the reasons that
follow, we AFFIRM.
I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On July 1, 2014, Defendant Ward began a three-year period of supervised release after
serving a two-year sentence for false-claims conspiracy and conspiracy to commit money
laundering. Within three months of his release, Ward had amassed multiple violations of the
terms of his supervision: he was issued a misdemeanor citation for possession of marijuana; he
United States v. Ward
failed to report the citation to his probation officer within 72 hours of receiving it; he failed to
provide urine samples as instructed by his probation officer on two occasions, and was therefore
discharged from the U.S. Probation Office’s random screening program; he failed to notify his
probation officer within 10 days prior to moving from his reported residence; and he was
terminated from the Drug Court program for failing to comply with program directives,
including failing to appear on two occasions and being charged with possession of marijuana.
Ward pleaded guilty to all of the violations except the misdemeanor citation, which was
dismissed. Due to Ward’s criminal history of VI, and because each remaining violation was a
Grade C, the Guidelines recommended a prison term of 8 to 14 months. U.S.S.G. § 7B1.4. The
government recommended a sentence within the Guidelines range followed by an additional
period of supervision. Ward acknowledged that some prison time was appropriate but requested
a shorter sentence followed by supervision during which he could receive drug treatment. The
district court declined to follow the Guidelines and the parties’ recommendations, instead
revoking Ward’s supervised release and sentencing him to 24 months in prison with no period of
supervision. Ward timely filed this appeal.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
We review for abuse of discretion the reasonableness of a sentence revoking supervised
release. United States v. Bolds, 511 F.3d 568, 575 (6th Cir. 2007); see also Gall v. United States,
552 U.S. 38, 51 (2007) (setting abuse of discretion standard for review of sentences generally).
The same standard applies whether the district court imposed a sentence inside or outside the
Guidelines range. Gall, 552 U.S. at 51. We do not presume that a sentence outside the
Guidelines range is either reasonable or unreasonable, but we “must give due deference to the
United States v. Ward
district court’s decision that the [18 U.S.C.] § 3553(a) factors, on a whole, justify the extent of
the variance.” Id.
Ward’s sole argument on appeal is that his sentence is substantively unreasonable.
A sentence may be substantively unreasonable if the district court selected it arbitrarily, based it
on impermissible factors, failed to consider pertinent § 3553(a) factors, or gave an unreasonable
amount of weight to any pertinent factor. United States v. Martinez, 588 F.3d 301, 328 (6th Cir.
In choosing to vary upward from the Guidelines range, the district court emphasized the
need to promote respect for the law and the fact that the defendant had committed these
violations almost immediately upon release from prison. See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(1), (2)(A).
The court expressed concern that a defendant could violate the terms of his supervised release so
quickly, and potentially get out of prison before his original period of supervision would have
expired. But the court clearly considered all of the § 3553(a) factors.
On appeal, Ward contends that the district court placed too much weight on his criminal
history and the multiple violations of his supervision, while failing to take into account the
benefits he could gain from a drug treatment program. Ward claims that he accumulated the
large number of violations so quickly because of his unstable living situation when he was first
released, which caused him to relapse into his drug addiction. He thus argues that his sentence
unreasonably discounts the rehabilitation factor. See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)(D).
When Ward raised this argument at his sentencing hearing, the court specifically
explained its decision to impose a longer sentence without any supervision. In particular, two
factors convinced the court that supervision would be futile because Ward was not willing to be
United States v. Ward
rehabilitated. First, at his initial sentencing, Ward had denied needing drug treatment, claiming
he had not used drugs since his teenage years. This attitude continued on supervision in Ward’s
disregard for the directives of the Drug Court. Second, the court relied on the conclusion of
Ward’s probation officer that Ward was “not amenable to supervision” because he made no
attempts to communicate with the probation office as required. Although Ward argues that these
facts show that he is an addict and needs treatment, the court did not abuse its discretion in
Since the district court did not unreasonably weigh the § 3553(a)
sentencing factors, the upward variance was not an abuse of discretion.
For the foregoing reasons, we AFFIRM Ward’s sentence revoking his term of supervised
release and imposing a sentence of 24 months’ incarceration.
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