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    • Brief

    United States v. Owen, 2020 WL 7407872, at *1 (E.D. Va. Dec. 17, 2020)

    Addendum to Motion (Aug. 6, 2020)

    Motion for Reconsideration (Nov. 6, 2020) 

    Order (Dec. 17, 2020)

    Argument: Motion for reconsideration; court had previously denied motion in October based on lack of medical condition; no grating MRF due to sentencing disparity based on 924(c) stacking. Discussion is relatively light – Owen was originally a co-defendant of McCoy (whose case was heard by the 4th Cir.)

    • Brief

    United States v. Jones, 482 F.Supp.3d 969 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 27, 2020)

    Order granting motion for compassionate release.

    Argument: Anthony Jones pleaded guilty to several counts, including five 924(c) counts. He was sentenced to 357 months, which the court reduced to time served in granting his motion, a total reduction of 15 months.

    On retroactivity:  “It cannot be denied that FSA § 403reflects a “legislative rejection” of stacking and a “legislative declaration of what level of punishment is adequate” for violations of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Redd, 444 F.Supp.3d at 723-24. Though the statute did not provide automatic relief to defendants like Mr. Jones, it has in no uncertain terms established that sentences like Mr. Jones's “unfair and unnecessary.” Id.”

    On finality of sentencing:

    “The Court likewise rejects the Government's objection that reducing a defendant's sentence based on subsequent legal changes would “undermine the finality of sentences.” Opp. at 9. Although “the principle of finality” is indisputably “essential to the operation of our criminal justice system,” Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288, 309, 109 S.Ct. 1060, 103 L.Ed.2d 334 (1989), it is not without exceptions. As the Ninth Circuit has explained, sentence reductions under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) are “acts of lenity”; as such, they “are not constrained by the general policies underlying initial sentencing or even plenary resentencing proceedings.” United States v. Padilla-Diaz, 862 F.3d 856, 861 (9th Cir. 2017). In other words, 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) represents Congress's judgment that the generic interest in finality must give way in certain individual cases.”

    • Brief

    United States v. Gregory, 07CR73-JED (N.D. Okla. Nov. 22, 2021)

    Order (Nov. 22, 2021)

    Motion (Nov. 8, 2021)

    Mr. Gregory was sentenced to a mandatory 32 years on two stacked 924(c)s convictions stemming from the robberies of two Oklahoma pharmacies. NACDL pro bono attorneys filed a compassionate release motion on Mr. Gregory’s behalf arguing that a reduced sentence is appropriate because, if sentenced today, Mr. Gregory’s mandatory minimum would be only 14 years.  Only two after the motion was filed, the district court reduced Mr. Gregory’s sentence to time-served, finding extraordinary and compelling reasons due to his conviction at a relatively young age (26), the disparity between his sentence and those sentenced for similar crimes after the FSA, his rehabilitation efforts, and the environment he would enter upon release.  The court also noted that Mr. Gregory was a victim of drug addiction, which motivated the robberies: “While the Court obviously does not excuse what he did, there is no doubt that Mr. Gregory, like so many others in this country, was, at least in part, a victim of his addiction to opioid pain killers. This addiction was the main force that drove him to rob two pharmacies at gunpoint.” Due to the work of his pro bono attorneys, Mr. Gregory was able to spend his first Thanksgiving in 15 years at home with his family. 

    • Brief

    United States v. Davis, 3:90CR85, ECF No. 277 (W.D.N.C. June 2, 2021)

    Motion (Apr. 30, 2021)

    Order (June 2, 2021)

    Argument: Davis, along with three co-defendants (Whitener/Cecil Jackson/Orrin Jackson) are the first "excessive sentence” compassionate release wins out of the Western District of North Carolina.  Each defendant's sentence was reduced to time-served after being convicted in 1990 of stacked § 924c counts, with sentences ranging from 660 to 1,620 months. Looking at factors such as their youth at the time of the convictions, their rehabilitation efforts in BOP, and family and community support, as well as the FSA changes to 924c sentencing, the court reduced their sentences to time served.

    • Brief

    United States v. Curry, No. 1:05CR282-TDS, 2021 WL 2644298 (M.D.N.C. June 25, 2021)

    Motion to Extend Time to File Reply Brief

    Motion to File Reply Brief in Excess of Word Limit

    Reply (April 10, 2021)

    Order (June 25, 2021)

    Argument: Mr. Curry was originally sentenced to life in prison in 2006 after a jury convicted of multiple drug counts and convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). After two resentencings, Mr. Curry was still subject to a 41 ½ year sentence, driven primarily by two stacked § 924(c) convictions in his case. His release date was projected as 2041 when Mr. Curry would be 65 years old. Judge had previously denied pre-McCoy. 

    Post McCoy, volunteers with NACDL's Excessive Sentence Project filed a CR Reply (gov. had already responded to pro se motion) arguing that First Step Act’s changes to the § 924(c) stacking penalty would result in Mr. Curry receiving a much lower sentence today for the same convictions.  Court granted motion, citing the “gross disparity” between the sentence Mr. Curry originally received and the sentence he would receive today along with his extensive rehabilitation while incarcerated.  The district court reduced Mr. Curry’s sentence from 500 months to 240 months.  Release date will now be 2022.

    • Brief

    United States v. Brown 457 F.Supp.3d 691 (S.D. Iowa Apr. 29,2020)

    Memorandum and Order granting compassionate release. 

    Argument: Daniel Brown pleaded guilty to four counts, including two 924(c) counts for a total sentence of 510 months. The sentencing judge indicated at the time that the stacked 924(c)s yielded a sentence “far greater than necessary to achieve the ends of justice.” A codefendant was sentenced to only 170 months and released prior to the compassionate release motion. A prior compassionate release motion citing rehabilitation and the draconian sentence had been denied “at th[at] juncture.” The court granted this second motion, citing Brown’s frequent letters to the court, his unsuccessful pursuit of executive clemency, the increased amount of time Brown had served, the COVID-19 pandemic, then in its early stages, and Brown’s risk factors for COVID-19. No cases had been confirmed in Brown’s facility at the time of the court’s grant of compassionate release.

    On the First Step Act’s changes to allow defendants to move for compassionate release on their own behalf:

    “The Act listed these changes under the title of “Increasing the Use and Transparency of Compassionate Release.” § 603(b), 132 Stat. at 5239. That title is “especially valuable” here. Yates, 135 S. Ct. at 1090. The Court assumes the BOP Director faithfully executes the narrowly drawn policy and program statements related to compassionate release. Therefore, the only way direct motions to district courts would increase the use of compassionate release is to allow district judges to consider the vast variety of reasons that may be ‘extraordinary and compelling.’”

    • Brief

    United States v. Gaines, 2020 WL 7641201 (W.D. Wash. Dec. 23, 2020)


    Argument: Ivy Gaines was found guilty on 18 counts, including 8 924(c) counts, and sentenced to 182 years. Judge Zilly granted the motion for reduction and at the re-sentencing hearing on Feb. 4th reduced the sentence to a total of 20 years, "close to time served.” Bonus: The Sentencing transcript contains some gems from Judge Zilly, such as noting that “some of the recommendations and some of the positions the U.S. Attorney's Office has taken in this case are troubling.” As well as this: “a sentence of 182 years, 56 years, or even 30 years, in my opinion, does not give respect for the law. These sentences are far greater and typically given for more serious crimes. You could murder someone in the State of Washington, or in a federal jurisdiction where they have federal law, and you probably wouldn't get a 56-year sentence.”

    • Brief

    United States v. Brown, 2020 WL 4569289, at *1 (E.D. Wis. Aug. 7, 2020)

    Memorandum and Order granting compassionate release 

    Argument: Deric Brown pled guilty to seven counts of robbery and two 924(c) counts. The court granted a reduction of 624 months to 408 months – from the old mandatory minimum to the new one, based on the disparity in sentencing and Brown’s “complete 180-degree change in attitude and conduct.”

    Walking through factors in favor of relief:

    “If Brown had been sentenced today rather than in 2002, there is no question that he would have received 408 months’ imprisonment, rather than 624 months. This is an 18-year difference on a mandatory, consecutive term. Moreover, Brown's sentences for the predicate offenses may have been lower, resulting in a lower sentence overall. Dean v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 1170, 1176–77 (2017) (permitting sentencing courts to consider mandatory minimum sentences imposed under § 924(c) when determining the appropriate sentence for a predicate offense). This disparity is significant, as demonstrated not only by Congress's decision to amend the statute to clarify its intent, but also by the pure fact of it: 18 years is a long time to remain incarcerated; indeed, it is nearly as long as Brown has already been incarcerated. Finally, the reason for the disparity is simply that the original statute was interpreted a certain way—ultimately, in a way that led to “unfair and unnecessary” sentences. Redd, 2020 WL 1248493, at *6. There is no penological justification at play, here.” At *4.