Sixth Circuit - First Step Act of 2018

United States v. Alam, 960 F.3d 831 (6th Cir. 2020). A prisoner’s motion for compassionate release under § 3582(c)(1)(A) requires the prisoner to fully exhaust all administrative rights or wait 30 days after the warden’s receipt of the request. This requirement is a claim-processing rule, not a jurisdictional one, and the district court must enforce the rule if the government raises it.

United States v. Boulding, 960 F.3d 774 (6th Cir. 2020). Section 404(b) eligibility depends on the statute of conviction, not the defendant’s actual conduct. Eligible defendants are not entitled to plenary resentencing, but a court’s discretion to deny resentencing is not unlimited: an eligible defendant is entitled to an amended Guidelines calculation, renewed consideration of the § 3553(a) factors, and an opportunity to raise objections.

United States v. Snow, 967 F.3d 563 (6th Cir. 2020). Conspiracy to kill a person while engaged in a conspiracy to distribute 50 grams of cocaine base in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 848(e)(1)(A), is not a covered offense under § 404(b).

United States v. Williams, 972 F.3d 815 (6th Cir. 2020). In ruling on a defendant’s § 404(b) motion, the court erred when it failed to address the defendant’s post-conviction conduct.

United States v. Ruffin, 978 F.3d 1000 (6th Cir. 2020). The court did not abuse its discretion when it denied a motion for compassionate release. Even if a defendant meets the statutory requirements at 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A), a court must consider 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors and may “deny relief if it finds that the ‘applicable’ [section] 3553(a) factors do not justify it.”

United States v. Jones, 980 F.3d 1098, (6th 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.

United States v. Henry, 983 F.3d 214 (6th Cir. 2020). Section 403 of the First Step Act, which eliminated stacking of contemporaneous 18 USC § 924(c) convictions, applies to a defendant facing a limited resentencing (due to an appeal on unrelated grounds) after the FSA was passed.

United States v. Elias, 984 F.3d 516 (6th Cir. 2021). The combination of hypertension and COVID-19 was not an extraordinary and compelling reason for compassionate release. The CDC had not identified hypertension as a risk factor for severe COVID-19 complications, and the prison where the defendant was incarcerated had no COVID-19 cases.

United States v. Sherwood, 986 F.3d 951 (6th Cir. 2021). Because satisfying the policy statement at USSG §1B1.13 is no longer a requirement for compassionate release motions filed by the defendant, the court erred when it denied the defendant’s motion with a two-sentence order relying “exclusively” on the provision.

United States v. Navarro, 986 F.3d 668 (6th Cir. 2021). The court did not abuse its discretion by denying a compassionate release motion with a form order. It was clear that the court relied on the record, including the defendant’s “extensive criminal history—in addition to his repeated illegal reentries.”

United States v. Maxwell, 991 F.3d 685 (6th Cir. 2021). Section 404 of the First Step Act, which permits a court to reduce a sentence for a covered offense, does not entitle an eligible defendant to a plenary resentencing. A court, however, may use its discretion to consider subsequent legal and factual developments in balancing the § 3553(a) factors to assess whether, and to what extent, to modify a sentence.

United States v. Wills, 991 F.3d 720 (6th Cir. 2021). The First Step Act’s definition of “serious drug felony,” which determines whether a defendant is subject to an increased mandatory minimum for a drug trafficking offense, does not apply retroactively. The court therefore did not abuse its discretion when it found that the new, more favorable definition does not constitute extraordinary and compelling reasons justifying compassionate release.

United States v. Tomes, 990 F.3d 500 (6th Cir. 2021). When ruling on a defendant-filed motion for compassionate release, the court is not bound by the policy statement at §1B1.13, but the court may consider the policy statement along with other § 3553(a) factors.

United States v. Jackson, 995 F.3d 522 (6th Cir. 2021). A defendant whose sentence was already imposed at the time the First Step Act was enacted is not eligible to receive the reduced penalties for 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) offenses. Defendants whose sentences were on appeal at the time of enactment are not eligible.

United States v. Owens, 996 F.3d 755 (6th Cir. 2021). When determining whether extraordinary and compelling reasons merit compassionate release, a court may consider, along with other factors, intervening legal changes such as the First Step Act’s elimination of § 924(c) stacking.

United States v. Jarvis, 999 F.3d 442 (6th Cir. 2021). Non-retroactive reductions made by section 403 of the First Step Act of 2018 to 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) penalties cannot serve as “extraordinary and compelling” reasons for a compassionate-release sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i).

United States v. Hunter, --F.4th--, 2021 WL 3855665 (6th Cir. 2021). Non-retroactive legal changes, mitigating facts known at sentencing, and the defendant’s “less-than-spotless rehabilitation efforts” did not constitute extraordinary and compelling circumstances warranting compassionate release.

Training Topic: