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November 16, 2019

Another District Court finds statutory sentence reform among "extraordinary and compelling reasons" for reducing sentence by 40 years under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)

I am pleased to be able to report on a great new district court ruling granting a sentence reduction using 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) in order to under the now-repealed harshness of severe stacking of mandatory minimum 924(c) counts.  (As regular readers know, in prior posts I have made much of a key provision of the FIRST STEP Act which now allows federal courts to directly reduce sentences under the (so-called compassionate release) statutory provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) without awaiting a motion by the Bureau of Prisons.  I see this provision as such a big deal because I think, if applied appropriately and robustly, this provision could and should enable many hundreds, and perhaps many thousands, of federal prisoners to have excessive prison sentences reduced.)

This new ruling comes in US v. Urkevich, No. 8:03CR37, 2019 WL 6037391 (D. Neb. Nov. 14, 2019). In this case, Judge Camp begins by noting that because of the severe stacking rules in place at the time of the crime, Urkevich's sentence "(848 months) is forty years longer than the sentence he likely would have received (368 months) if he were sentenced under the law (18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(C)) as it now exists." Then, after noting that the "Government does not dispute that Urkevich has demonstrated post-offense rehabilitation, and the Government does not argue that he poses a current danger to the safety of any other person or to the community," Judge Camp concludes:

If this Court reduces Urkevich’s sentences on Counts III and V to 60 months each, consecutive, he will not be eligible for immediate release.  His sentence would total 368 months, and he would have served somewhat more than half that sentence.  Nonetheless, the Court does not consider the Motion premature.  A reduction in his sentence is warranted by extraordinary and compelling reasons, specifically the injustice of facing a term of incarceration forty years longer than Congress now deems warranted for the crimes committed. A reduction in the sentence at this juncture will help Urkevich and the Bureau of Prisons plan for his ultimate release from custody and may assist him in his pending efforts to seek clemency from the Executive Branch.  This Court will not intervene in that process.

After consideration of all the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), especially § 3553(a)(2)(A) (“the need for the sentence imposed ... to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense”) and § 3553(a)(6) (“the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct”), as well as applicable Sentencing Commission policy statements, the Court finds extraordinary and compelling reasons for a reduction of the Defendant’s sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i).  The Court further concludes that the Defendant has demonstrated that he poses no current danger to the safety of any other person or to the community. Accordingly, the Defendant’s sentences on Counts III and V of the Indictment will be reduced to 60 months each, consecutive.

The statement above by Judge Camp that the sentence reduction motion here is not premature is a reference to (and disagreement with) the reasoning of Judge Pratt in US v. Brown, No. 4:05-CR-00227-1, 2019 WL 4942051 (S.D. Iowa Oct. 8, 2019), a similar case noted and lamented in this post.  In Brown, the court seemed to essentially conclude that the movant had demonstrated extraordinary and compelling reasons for a sentence reduction and seemed to conclude the 3553(a) factors justified such a reduction, but the court rejected the motion for a reduced sentence seemingly because conforming a reduced sentence based on the terms of current statutory law would not lead to the defendant's immediate release.  I am quite pleased that this Urkevich case recognizes why a congressionally-authorized sentence reduction that is statutorily justified is always timely.

Some prior related posts on § 3582(c)(1)(A) after FIRST STEP Act:

November 16, 2019 at 03:32 PM | Permalink


Please dont tell me that Judge Camp is our very own hero, Judge Jack Camp who had loaded hand guns in the vehicle while he done drug deals with a hooker.

The super feds had a pow wow at sentenceing and revoked his felony guilty plea and reducked it to a misdemeaner. Feds also researcked out his cases he precided over while high on drugs and said they were fine. Of coarse...

Please, tell me who is this Judge Camp.....

Posted by: MidwetsGuy | Nov 16, 2019 6:20:08 PM

Different Judge Camp, MidwestGuy. You are thinking of Jack Tarpley Camp Jr., former United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Tarpley_Camp_Jr.

This decision is by Laurie Smith Camp, Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurie_Smith_Camp

Posted by: Doug B. | Nov 17, 2019 10:23:26 AM

I practiced law in Atlanta for many years during the 1980s and 1990s, when Judge Jack T. Camp was a Judge and the Chief U.S. District Judge in the Northern District of Georgia. He was a bright man and high respected in those days, so it was utterly shocking when he ended up being Federally charged and resigning his lifetime appointment as a Judge. His attorney's explanation for his bizarre behavior was that he had injured his brain in a bicycle accident a year or 2 earlier. I still believe that the fact that he was given such a light sentence (for giving his Government-issued laptop computer to his stripper/ hooker girl friend) and not prosecuted at all for bringing two loaded pistols to drug transactions, where he gave his girl friend the cash to buy her drugs and sat in the car with pistols was outrageous. Obviously, because the 924(c) charges would have carried substantial mandatory consecutive time, the prosecutors did not want to include those charges in an indictment or criminal complaint. No other defendant in America would ever have gotten that deal. Compare what happened to former Judge Samuel B. Kent, of the S.D. Texas, who spent years in solitary confinement, in protective custody, with the Florida Department of Corrections, after the BOP traded him off because they decided they couldn't properly protect him, even in a Federal Medical facility of prison camp.

Posted by: James Gormley | Nov 17, 2019 3:24:31 PM

Judge Jack T. Camp's sentence was 30 days, plus community service and a fine. Judge Samuel B. Kent's sentence was 33 months, much of which was spent locked down 23+ hours per day in solitary confinement/ protective custody in a Florida state prison.

Posted by: James Gormley | Nov 17, 2019 3:42:58 PM

Your post does not include a link to the decision. Is that oversight, or a new practice?

Posted by: Def. Atty. | Nov 20, 2019 11:50:52 AM

I could not find a copy publicly available on line, Def. Atty....

Posted by: Doug B. | Nov 20, 2019 12:46:50 PM

My nephew Sebastian Eccleston 95-cr-0014 JB (DNM) was just denied compassionate release. Sebastian was a first time offender stacked on 924(c). He has been in prison 25 years, no ddisciplinary history, collee degree, and support system upon release. The procedure is unfair if it depends on whether you jave a compassionate judge or not. How can the grant compassionate release to some and not others? Especially when some of the "others" have been in longer and have more extraordinary and extraordinary rehabilitative effort and progress than

Posted by: Sam Anton | Apr 13, 2021 9:23:57 AM

How do you challenge the denial of compassionate release when there is clear prejudice and bias against the defendant? There was absolutely no justification to deny Sebastian compassionate release and every reason to grant it. Yet, judge James O. Browning said he found there were no extraordinary and compelling reason and he felt Sebastian was a danger to the community. Sebastian is in a minimum custody prison, he has no disciplinary history in 25 years, college degree and all sorts of programs. Sebastian has over 300 hours as a dental assistance and a school lined up to get his certification upon release and Judge Browning says Sebastian is a danger to the community? What can we do? Pleasr help us. Bonnie Kerness from the American Friends Service Committee is helping to start a petition against this unfair ruling. [email protected].

Posted by: Sam Anton | Apr 13, 2021 9:37:00 AM

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