Dean v. United States

PETITIONER: Levon Dean, Jr.
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Palmer House Motel

DOCKET NO.: 15-9260
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

GRANTED: Oct 28, 2016

Facts of the case

Levon Dean, Jr. and Jamal Dean were brothers who agreed to participate in a robbery of a local drug dealer known as J.R. with Jessica Cabbell and Sarah Berg. On April 15, 2013, Levon and Jamal accompanied Berg to the Palmer House Motel in Sioux City, Iowa, to confront J.R. Jamal pulled a gun on J.R. and hit him on the head with the firearm. Berg, Jamal, and Levon fled the scene with J.R.’s car, cell phone, and methamphetamines. Later that month, Levon and Jamal robbed another methamphetamine dealer, C.B., at gunpoint in his home. In a similar manner, Jamal hit C.B. with his gun and fled the scene in C.B.’s car with $300, methamphetamines, and other electronics. During this robbery, the Deans ordered Hope Marsh who was living at the residence to come with and live with them. The Deans were eventually arrested in May of 2013.

The Deans were convicted of multiple crimes including robbery in violation of the Hobbs Act, which requires that a crime  “obstruct, delay, or affect commerce.” Levon Dean, Jr. was sentenced to 400 months, including a 360-month mandatory minimum consecutive sentence pursuant to the sentence for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime under 18 U.S.C. §924(c).  Without the mandatory minimum, Levon’s sentence guideline would have been 84-105 months. On appeal, Levon Dean challenged the sufficiency the evidence to establish a nexus to interstate commerce as the Hobbs Act requires, the sufficiency of evidence for his firearm convictions, and the reasonableness of his sentence. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld the district court’s decision to follow the precedent it established in United States v. Hatcher, which held that the district court did not have discretion to reconsider mandatory minimums in sentences. The appellate court held that the district court’s sentence of 40-months to be served consecutively with the 360-month sentence was “substantively reasonable and not an abuse of the district court’s discretion.”


Does the Supreme Court’s decision in Pepper v. United States―holding that a judge can adjust sentencing guidelines downward if the defendant is rehabilitated after his initial sentencing―overrule United States v. Hatcher and other Eighth Circuit opinions that limit the district court’s discretion in determining the appropriate sentence for the felony serving as the basis for a conviction for possessing a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime under 18 U.S.C. §924(c)?