Skip to main content


Reset A A Font size: Print

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee, v. JAMES BROME, AKA Trouble, AKA B, Defendant-Appellant.


Decided: December 08, 2016

PRESENT: DEBRA ANN LIVINGSTON, DENNY CHIN, SUSAN L. CARNEY, Circuit Judges. For Defendant-Appellant: JAMES BROME, pro se, White Deer, PA For Appellee: JOSEPH J. KARASZEWSKI, Assistant United States Attorney, for William J. Hochul, Jr., United States Attorney for the Western District of New York, Buffalo, NY

UPON DUE CONSIDERATION, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the orders of the district court are VACATED, and the case is REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this order.

Defendant-Appellant James Brome, proceeding pro se, appeals from the district court's denial of his motion to reduce his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and Amendment 782 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which lowered the base offense levels applicable to most drug crimes. See U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual app. C., amend. 782 (U.S. Sentencing Comm'n 2014). Brome also appeals from the district court's denial of his motion for reconsideration. We assume the parties' familiarity with the underlying facts, the procedural history of the case, and the issues on appeal.

We review a district court's denial of a § 3582(c)(2) motion for abuse of discretion. United States v. Borden, 564 F.3d 100, 104 (2d Cir. 2009). Likewise, we review the denial of a reconsideration motion for abuse of discretion. United States v. Moreno, 789 F.3d 72, 78 n.4 (2d Cir. 2015). A “district court has abused its discretion if it based its ruling on an erroneous view of the law or on a clearly erroneous assessment of the evidence, or rendered a decision that cannot be located within the range of permissible decisions.” Borden, 564 F.3d at 104 (quoting Sims v. Blot, 534 F.3d 117, 132 (2d Cir. 2008)).

Upon review, we conclude that vacatur is warranted because we are unable fully to evaluate the basis for the district court's exercise of discretion on the present record. In denying Brome's § 3582(c)(2) motion, the district court cited “the nature of the defendant's history and characteristics and the need for the sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offense.” App'x 20. But with respect to Brome's history and characteristics, the district court specifically focused on information, contained in Brome's original PSR, that he had absconded from supervision and assaulted another inmate. Brome was never prosecuted for absconding from supervision, and he was acquitted of the assault charge. While these facts do not necessarily mean that the underlying conduct cannot properly be considered, cf. United States v. Aldeen, 792 F.3d 247, 254 (2d Cir. 2015) (affirming, in sentencing context, that conduct underlying a dismissed charge may be considered where appropriate factual findings as to the conduct are made), the record does not reveal whether the district court was aware of this information at the time it decided the present motion, nor does it otherwise provide a basis for understanding the court's consideration of these incidents, which formed the basis for its analysis whether Brome's § 3582(c)(2) motion to reduce his sentence should be granted.

The remainder of the district court's order does not otherwise sufficiently illuminate the district court's reasoning so as to permit this Court to review the district court's exercise of discretion. See United States v. Cavera, 550 F.3d 180, 193 (2d Cir. 2008) (en banc) (“We cannot uphold a discretionary decision unless we have confidence that the district court exercised its discretion and did so on the basis of reasons that survive our limited review. Without a sufficient explanation of how the court below reached the result it did, appellate review of the reasonableness of that judgment may well be impossible.”). In fact, in denying Brome's motion for reconsideration, the district court provided no explanation at all.

To be clear, we conclude simply that the present record, for the particular reasons noted here, is inadequate to permit this Court to review the exercise of discretion by the district court. We otherwise express no view as to the merits of Brome's motion. On this basis, we VACATE the district court's orders and REMAND for reconsideration of Brome's § 3582(c) motion.


Catherine O'Hagan Wolfe, Clerk

Copied to clipboard