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SAMARITAN ALERT- COURTS IN THE THIRD CIRCUIT ARE DENYING RETRO ACTIVE CHANGE IN THE LAW RELIEF

COURTS IN THE THIRD CIRCUIT ARE DENYING RELIEF PURSUANT TO U.S.S.G. 1B1.13(b)(6).

 

In United States v. Johnson, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27122, at *2-3 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 16, 2024), the Court held:

 

“Johnson, proceeding pro se, now moves to reduce his sentence pursuant to the compassionate release statute, 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A)(i). That statute authorizes district courts to modify an imposed term of imprisonment upon a finding that ‘extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant such a reduction.’ Id. Congress did not define ‘extraordinary and compelling reasons,’ instead instructing the U.S. Sentencing Commission to do so. 28 U.S.C. 994(t). Consistent with this direction, the Sentencing Commission recently promulgated a revised policy statement which states that a defendant's ‘unusually long sentence’ that is grossly disproportionate to a ‘sentence likely to be imposed at the time the motion is filed’ is a basis for compassionate release. U.S.S.G. 1B1.13(b)(6). Johnson seeks application of this policy statement to his case, arguing that because of the changes wrought by the First Step Act, his nearly 70-year sentence is both unusually and disproportionately long.

 

Binding precedent forecloses application of the Sentencing Commission policy statement to Johnson's case. Specifically, in United States v. Andrews, the Third Circuit held that ‘[t]he duration of a lawfully imposed sentence does not create an extraordinary or compelling circumstance’ warranting compassionate release. 12 F.4th 255, 260-61 (3d Cir. 2021). As this Court recently explained, this decision ‘remains binding law in this circuit, and it forecloses [the defendant's] argument that he is eligible for compassionate release pursuant to Section 1B1.13(b)(6) of the Sentencing Commission's revised policy statement.’ United States v. Carter, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6504, at 15, 2024 WL 136777, at 6 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 12, 2024) (Beetlestone, J.).

 

​As explained, Section 1B1.13(b)(6) states that an ‘unusually long sentence’ may be deemed an ‘extraordinary and compelling reason’ warranting compassionate release, provided that the defendant has served at least 10 years of their term of incarceration, and that a non-retroactive change in the law has produced a ‘gross disparity’ between the sentences of otherwise similarly situated individuals. U.S.S.G. 1B1.13(b)(6). That provision—which indisputably covers [the defendant] and others in his position—is incompatible with Andrews's interpretation of the compassionate release statute, 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A)(i), and its holding that ‘the duration of [a defendant's] sentence and the nonretroactive changes to mandatory minimums’ is not one of the ‘extraordinary and compelling reasons’ described by the statute. Andrews, 12 F.4th at 260. Id. ‘Unless and until any reconsideration of Andrews takes place or it is abrogated by a Supreme Court decision,"’ id. at *5, Section 1B1.13(b)(6) may not serve as the basis for compassionate release.” 

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