U.S. v. Mazza
A sentencing court does not commit error when it considers a defendant's past conviction for possession of marijuana, although marijuana possession has since been decriminalized. On the morning of jury selection, the defendant, Cheyne Mazza, pled guilty. The District Court sentenced the defendant, and he appealed to the 2nd Circuit and argued that the District Court wrongly applied the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, because it did not grant a reduction in his sentence for acceptance of responsibility, and it counted a prior conviction when it calculated his criminal history category, although Connecticut later decriminalized the underlying conduct. The 2nd Circuit reviewed for abuse of discretion. "A district court commits procedural error where it fails to calculate the Guidelines range . . . , makes a mistake in its Guidelines calculation, or treats the Guidelines as mandatory," pursuant to U.S. v. Cavera, a 2008 decision of the 2nd Circuit. The District Court did not abuse its discretion when it considered the timeliness of the defendant's plea, on the morning of jury selection. Also, the District Court considered other factors, in addition to the timeliness of the plea, when it decided whether to grant a reduction for acceptance of responsibility. The 2nd Circuit found that the defendant was denied the reduction for acceptance of responsibility because he refused to admit his role in the conspiracy. This constituted a proper rationale. Although one of the defendant's prior convictions was for possession of marijuana, and marijuana possession has since been decriminalized, the District Court properly calculated the defendant's criminal history category. A state's reclassification of an offense that takes place after a conviction has become final does not apply retroactively. The defendant's conduct was criminal at the time it took place. The 2nd Circuit affirmed the judgment of the District Court, Bryant, J.