Seventh Circuit - First Step Act of 2018

United States v. Shaw, 957 F.3d 734 (7th Cir. 2020). Section 404(b) eligibility is determined by reference to the statute of conviction, not “the drug quantity described in a defendant’s presentence investigation report or a plea agreement’s factual basis.” A court “may look to § 3553(a)’s familiar framework,” including “post-sentencing conduct,” when determining whether to exercise its discretion to impose a reduced sentence, and may impose a reduced sentence below the Guidelines range.

United States v. Hudson, 967 F.3d 605 (7th Cir. 2020). A defendant convicted of both a covered drug offense and an uncovered gun offense was eligible for a sentence reduction under the Frist Step Act. The Act authorizes a sentence reduction if the aggregate sentence includes non-covered offenses grouped with covered offenses.

United States v. Sparkman, 973 F.3d 771 (7th Cir. 2020). Section 403 of the First Step Act, which prohibits stacking sentences for contemporaneous § 924(c) convictions, does not apply to cases on appeal when the FSA was passed.

United States v. Bethany, 975 F.3d 642 (7th Cir. 2020). Section 401 of the First Step Act, which reduces mandatory minimum penalties for certain drug offenses and amends the definitions of prior offenses triggering those enhanced penalties, applies to a defendant resentenced, due to a successful § 2255 motion, after the FSA was passed.

United States v. Uriarte, 975 F.3d 596 (7th Cir. 2020). Section 403 of the First Step Act, which eliminated stacking of contemporaneous § 924(c) convictions, applies to a defendant resentenced, due to an appeal on unrelated grounds, after the FSA was passed.

United States v. Gunn, 980 F.3d 1178 (7th Cir. 2020). After the passage of the First Step Act of 2018, the policy statement at §1B1.13 applies only to compassionate release motions filed by the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, not those filed by defendants. Nonetheless, the policy statement’s definition of “extraordinary and compelling reasons [] can guide discretion without being conclusive.”

United States v. Hogsett, 982 F.3d 463 (7th Cir. 2020). Convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C), are “covered offenses” eligible for a sentence reduction under section 404 of the First Step Act, therefore the defendant was eligible for a sentence reduction.

United States v. Stamps, 983 F.3d 945 (7th Cir. 2020). Statutory safety valve requires a defendant to prove by a preponderance that any firearm possessed was unrelated to the drug trafficking conviction. It does not, unlike §2D1.1(b)’s two-level enhancement, require proof that the firearm’s connection to the drug offense was clearly improbable.

United States v. Blake, 986 F.3d 756 (7th Cir. 2021). A defendant seeking a retroactive sentence reduction under the First Step Act has no right to counsel, because “the Constitution does not entitle a prisoner seeking a lower sentence to the appointment of counsel at public expense.”

United States v. Sanford, 986 F.3d 779 (7th Cir. 2021). The administrative exhaustion requirement for defendant-filed motions under section 3582(c)(1)(A) is a “mandatory claim-processing rule” that “must be enforced [by a district court] when properly invoked.”

United States v. Williams, 987 F.3d 700 (7th Cir. 2021). To satisfy the exhaustion requirement for a compassionate release motion, the defendant must “present the same or similar ground for compassionate release in a request to the Bureau [of Prisons] as in a motion to the court. . . .[A]ny contrary approach would undermine the purpose of exhaustion.”

United States v. Joiner, 988 F.3d 993 (7th Cir. 2021). In denying a motion for compassionate release, the court did not commit procedural error when it failed to address specifically the defendant’s argument that he was at an elevated risk for complications from COVID-19 because of his skin color. The defendant presented only general evidence of race-based disparities in health care outcomes and failed to tie that evidence to his individual situation.

United States v. Jackson, 991 F.3d 851 (7th Cir. 2021). A defendant who committed his crime before the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 is ineligible for compassionate release under the First Step Act because of a transition rule in the SRA that limits its application to crimes committed after its effective date.

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