US v. Lejuanne Walker, No. 10-4536 (4th Cir. 2010)

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UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 10-4536 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff Appellee, v. LEJUANNE WALKER, Defendant Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. Catherine C. Blake, District Judge. (1:09-cr-00369-CCB-2) Submitted: November 9, 2010 Decided: December 3, 2010 Before DUNCAN, AGEE, and WYNN, Circuit Judges. Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion. Steven F. Wrobel, ROSENBERG|MARTIN|GREENBERG, LLP, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant. Rod J. Rosenstein, United States Attorney, Cheryl L. Crumpton, Assistant United States Attorney, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. PER CURIAM: Lejuanne Walker appeals his 144-month sentence following a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (2006). On appeal, Walker argues that the district court committed procedural error when it classified him as a career offender and failed to explicitly address his request that the career offender guidelines be rejected based on their racially disproportionate impact. We deferential review the district abuse-of-discretion standard. States, 552 U.S. 38, 41 (2007). must first error, examine including the sentence Gall under v. a United In conducting this review, we sentence failing court s to for significant calculate (or procedural improperly calculating) the Guidelines range . . . or failing to adequately explain the chosen sentence. Id. at 51. In reviewing the district court s application of the Sentencing Guidelines, we review findings of fact for clear error and questions of law de novo. United States v. Layton, 564 F.3d 330, 334 (4th Cir. 2009). Section 4B1.1(a) of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual ( USSG ) (2009) provides that a defendant is a career offender if, among other conditions, he has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled 2 substance offense. USSG § 4B1.1(a)(3). A controlled substance offense is a federal or state offense, punishable by more than one year in prison, that prohibits the manufacture, import, export, distribution, or dispensing of a controlled substance (or a counterfeit substance) or the possession of a controlled substance (or a counterfeit substance) with intent to manufacture, import, export, distribute, or dispense. USSG § 4B1.2(b). To determine whether a conviction qualifies as a prior offense for purposes of the career offender guidelines, a sentencing court must take a categorical approach, examining only the fact of conviction and the statutory definition of the prior offense. Shepard v. United States, 544 U.S. 13, 17 (2005); see also United States v. Dean, 605 F.3d 169, 175 (4th Cir. 2010) (recognizing that the categorical approach has been extended to the career offender provisions). Here, the district court did not err in determining that Walker qualified as a career offender for purposes of the Guidelines. 2002 Walker s career offender designation was based on a Maryland conviction, the validity questions, and a 2006 Maryland conviction. of which Walker Specifically, Walker suggests that a notation made by the state court on the record referring to ambiguity to possible the 2002 probation before conviction s judgment felony lends status that district court should have disregarded that conviction. 3 enough the The district court s determination, however, was consistent with the categorical approach. The court considered the state court record, the electronic docket, and the definition of the prior offense to determine that Walker did, in fact, plead guilty to a qualifying offense. court s notation Further, the court concluded that the state only reflected the possibility of probation before judgment upon a motion for reconsideration; because the state court took no action to impose probation before judgment, the district court correctly held that the 2002 conviction was a felony for career offender purposes. Walker also argues that his sentence was unreasonable because the district court failed to consider his argument that it should disregard the career offender guidelines because of their racially error, a disproportionate sentencing court effect. must state To in avoid open procedural court particular reasons that support its chosen sentence. States court s v. Carter, 564 explanation F.3d need 325, not 328 be (4th Cir. exhaustive; United 2009). it the must The be sufficient to satisfy the appellate court that [the district court] has considered the parties arguments and has a reasoned basis for exercising [its] own legal decisionmaking authority. United States v. Boulware, 604 F.3d 832, 837 (4th Cir. 2010) (quoting Rita v. United States, 551 U.S. 338, 356 (2007)). 4 The district court in this case explicitly considered the seriousness of the offense, Walker s criminal history and characteristics, convictions. and It the made an nonviolent nature individualized of Walker s assessment explanation sufficiently reflected that assessment. 551 U.S. at 356 ( [W]e cannot read the and its Cf. Rita, statute (or our precedent) as insisting upon a full opinion in every case. . . . Sometimes a judicial opinion responds sometimes it does not. . . . to every argument; The law leaves much, in this respect, to the judge s own professional judgment. ). Moreover, it appears from the court s explanation of its chosen sentence that it did consider Walker s applying the career offender downward from the applicable policy-based guidelines in Guidelines argument deciding range. against to Thus, vary we conclude that the district court s explanation was sufficient and did not constitute procedural error resulting in an unreasonable sentence. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the district court. legal before We dispense with oral argument because the facts and contentions the court are adequately and argument presented would not in aid the the materials decisional process. AFFIRMED 5
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