Fifth Circuit - First Step Act of 2018

United States v. Chambliss, 948 F.3d 691 (5th Cir. 2020). Although the defendant was eligible for compassionate release under the First Step Act, the court did not abuse its discretion by denying defendant’s motion for a reduced sentence. Compassionate release is discretionary, and the court sufficiently articulated its reasons for denying the motion.

United States v. Stewart, 964 F.3d 433 (5th Cir. 2020). Although section 404(b) of the First Step Act does not permit plenary resentencing, the court erred by constraining itself to the guidelines in effect at the time of the defendant’s original sentence. The court should have applied Amendment 750’s retroactive changes to the crack cocaine equivalency calculation.

United States v. Franco, 973 F.3d 465 (5th Cir. 2020). A prisoner’s motion for compassionate release under § 3582(c)(1)(A) requires the prisoner to first request that the BOP file a motion on her behalf. This requirement is a claim-processing rule, not a jurisdictional one, but the court must enforce it if the government raises it.

United States v. Robinson, 980 F.3d 454 (5th Cir. 2020). Section 404(b) of the First Step Act, which permits a court to reduce a sentence for a covered offense, allows (but does not require) a court to consider changes having nothing to do with the Fair Sentencing Act. The court’s decision reflected an understanding that it was not prohibited from considering that the defendant would not be sentenced as a career offender if sentenced under current law.

United States v. Thompson, 984 F.3d 431 (5th Cir. 2021). The combination of hypertension, high cholesterol, and COVID-19 was not an extraordinary and compelling reason for compassionate release.

United States v. Winters, 986 F.3d 942 (5th Cir. 2021). The defendant was eligible for a retroactive sentence reduction under the First Step Act because his “dual-object conspiracy” under 21 U.S.C. § 846, involving both crack cocaine and powder cocaine, was a “covered offense” under § 404(a).

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