August 9, 2011
Third Circuit (joining First and Eleventh Circuits) applies FSA lower mandatory minimum terms to pipeline cases
Via its opinion today in US v. Dixon, No. 10-4300 (3d Cir. Aug. 9, 2011) (available here), the Third Circuit has joined two other circuits in declaring that the new mandatory minimum sentencing provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act apply to all defendants who were not yet sentenced at the time of the Act's enactment. Here is how the opinion in Dixon opinion starts and ends:
The question presented in this appeal is whether the more favorable mandatory minimum prison sentences imposed by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (the “FSA” or the “Act”) apply retroactively to defendants, like Kenneth Dixon, who committed their crimes before the Act became law, but who were sentenced afterwards. We hold that the FSA does apply in this instance. The language of the Act reveals Congress‟s intent that courts no longer be forced to impose mandatory minimums sentences that are both indefensible and discriminatory. Therefore, we will vacate the judgment of the District Court and remand for resentencing....
We hold that the FSA requires application of the new mandatory minimum sentencing provisions to all defendants sentenced on or after August 3, 2010, regardless of when the offense conduct occurred. “[T]he terms of the law as a whole,” Great N. Ry., 208 U.S. at 465, namely the Act's grant of emergency authority to the Sentencing Commission and the desire to achieve “consistency” through “conforming” amendments, in conjunction with the directive in the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 to apply the Guidelines in effect on the day of sentencing, lead to the inescapable conclusion that Congress intended to apply the FSA to Dixon. This interpretation of the Act comports with its stated purpose to restore fairness to federal cocaine sentencing. To conclude otherwise would frustrate this goal and set “the legislative mind . . . at naught.” Id. Accordingly, we will vacate the judgment of the District Court and remand so that Dixon may be sentenced in accordance with the terms of the FSA.
Some prior posts on this FSA pipeline issue:
- Why is Obama's DOJ, after urging Congress to "completely eliminate" any crack/powder disparity, now seeking to keep the 100-1 ratio in place as long as possible?
- Senators Leahy and Durbin write letter to Attorney General Holder urging application of FSA to pending cases
- Adding my two cents concerning application of the FSA to pending cases
- A few more thoughts on applying the FSA to not-yet-sentenced defendants
- New USDC opinion applying new FSA law to not-yet-sentenced defendants
- WSJ notes dispute over application of FSA to pending cases
- A (partial) account of deep split over application of FSA's new statutory terms to pipeline cases
- Seventh Circuit rejects FSA's application to defendants sentenced after it changed crack statutes
- Dissenting from denial of en banc review, Judge Williams makes strongest case for applying FSA to pipeline cases
- First Circuit affirms Douglas, holding lower FSA crack minimums apply in pipeline cases
- Eleventh Circuit panel rules FSA's lower crack terms apply to defendants sentenced after enactment
- Only a year late, AG Holder sees light and reverses course on FSA pipeline sentencing issue
- A (justifiably) sharp reaction to AG Holder's new position on FSA crack pipeline cases
August 9, 2011 at 06:01 PM | Permalink
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A well reasoned, correct opinion. It puts the Seventh Circuit's shoddy work on the same issue to absolute shame.
Posted by: Mac | Aug 10, 2011 1:52:38 AM