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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Michael Chad James pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine or 500 grams or more of a mixture containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. ��841(a)(1) and 846 (count one) and to possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. �924(c) (count two). For count one, James faced a guideline range of 151 to 188 months based on an offense level of 33, given James’ criminal history category of “II.” For count two, James faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 60 months based on 18 U.S.C. �924(c)(1). At James’ sentencing, the government filed motions for downward departure from the sentencing guidelines and the statutory minimum on both counts pursuant to U.S. Sentencing Guideline �5K1.1 and 18 U.S.C. �3553(e) because of James’ substantial assistance in the investigation of other individuals involved in drug trafficking. The district court granted both the section 5K1.1 motion and the �3553(e) motion. The district court departed from the prescribed guidelines range of 151 to 188 months on count one and sentenced James to 24 months imprisonment. On count two, however, the district court determined that it had no authority to depart below the statutory minimum of �924(c)(1), so the court sentenced James to the statutory minimum of 60 months imprisonment to run consecutively with the sentence in count one. The court also sentenced James to supervised release upon his release from confinement, for a concurrent term of 5 years on count one and three years on count two. On appeal, James contended that the district court had the authority to depart below the statutory minimum of �924(c) based on the government’s �3553(e) motion. HOLDING:Sentencing for count two was vacated and remanded to the district court for consideration of the government’s �3553(e) motion. Congress, the court stated, gave district courts the limited authority to sentence a cooperating defendant below a mandatory statutory minimum sentence in �3553(e). According to the court, the district court was correct in determining that nothing in �3553(e) gives a district court the authority to impose a �924(c)(1) sentence concurrently with another sentence. Section 3553(e) does, however, give district courts the authority to sentence below the minimum level established by statute upon motion of the government, the court stated. The court noted decisions from other circuits agreeing with this proposition and observed that no statutory provision or jurisprudential holding that would prohibit a court from departing below the �924(c)(1) minimum if the court felt that such a sentence was appropriate. The court held that 18 U.S.C. � 553(e) applies to the mandatory minimum sentences of 18 U.S.C. �924(c)(1), and that a Government motion made pursuant to �3553(e), requesting that the district court depart from the statutory minimums of �924(c)(1), gives the district court the authority to depart from the �924(c)(1) mandatory minimums. OPINION:Per curiam; Smith, Wiener and Owen, J.J.

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