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April 12, 2020

Still more COVID-influenced grants of sentence reductions using § 3582(c)(1)(A), with waivers of exhaustion/waiting period

I have detailed in posts, here and here and here, a growing number of federal court decisions granting sentence reductions using § 3582(c)(1)(A) based, at least in part, on the "extraordinary and compelling" public health crisis created by COVID-19 (though the procedural issue flagged in this post is leading many motions to be denied for the time being).  When periodically reporting on the sentence reduction orders I find on Westlaw or that get sent to me, I always make the point that I am sure my listing does not represent all the sentence reductions being granted by federal district courts these days.   And, sure enough, a Sunday afternoon check of Westlaw turned up four more recent sentence reduction orders:

United States v. Sawicz, No. 08-cr-287 (ARR), 2020 WL 1815851 (EDNY Apr. 10, 2020) ("The COVID-19 outbreak at FCI Danbury, combined with the fact that the defendant is at risk of suffering severe complications if he were to contract COVID-19 because of his hypertension, justifies waiver here [of the exhaustion/waiting period].... I agree with the defendant that the risk of serious illness or death that he faces in prison constitutes an extraordinary and compelling reason militating in favor of his release.")

United States v. Almonte, No. 3:05-cr-58 (SRU), 2020 WL 1812713 (D. Conn. Apr. 9, 2020) ("[A] combination of factors convinces me that there are extraordinary and compelling reasons to reduce Almonte’s sentence.  Almonte’s medical condition may alone amount to an extraordinary and compelling reason to do so because his cervical myelopathy is a serious physical condition that will soon leave Almonte unable to care for himself in prison. If Almonte does not get the surgery he needs, he will not recover from his condition.  If he remains in BOP’s custody, Almonte will not get the surgery quickly enough. The surgery has already slipped through the cracks for a year and a half, and there is little chance for any improvement, given the rise of COVID-19 and concomitant logistical complications. Further, Almonte’s rehabilitation from his former life of crime has been total, and he has a supportive network of family ready to help him reintegrate into society.  Finally, because of changes in the law that did not affect him, Almonte’s more culpable co-conspirators have been afforded leniency while Almonte has not.")

Miller v. United States, No. 16-20222-1, 2020 WL 1814084 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 9, 2020) ("Both exceptions apply here [to waiver justify of exhaustion/waiting period when] a delay would unduly prejudice Miller....  Miller squarely fits the definition of an individual who has a higher risk of falling severely ill from COVID-19. The CDC also states that individuals with underlying medical conditions, such as a chronic lung disease, a serious heart condition, and liver disease, have a higher risk of severe illness. Id. Miller suffers from all three. Continuing Miller’s incarceration under the current circumstances could be a lethal decision. Therefore, the Court finds that extraordinary and compelling reasons exist for his immediate compassionate release.")

United States v. Gentille, No. 19 Cr. 590 (KPF), 2020 WL 1814158 (SDNY Apr. 9, 2020) ("To its credit, the Government has determined to waive the exhaustion requirement in this case... [The defendant's] remaining term of incarceration is short. And his medical conditions place him at a higher risk for developing serious medical complications were he to contract COVID-19. Gentille and his counsel have also put forward a plan for his reentry into society in a way that is aimed to protect him from exposure to COVID-19.")

Notably, in three of these four decisions, the district court (rightly in my view) concluded that it was not precluded from granting a sentence reduction by the exhaustion/waiting period provision in § 3582(c)(1)(A).  And kudos to prosecutors in Gentille for their decision to expressly waive this requirement so that the court could turn to the merits of the motion at this time of great urgency and uncertainty.

Prior recent related posts:

April 12, 2020 at 03:40 PM | Permalink


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