Tuesday, April 13, 2021

US v. Aruda, No. 20-10245 (4-8-21)(Per curiam w/Wardlaw, Gould, & Owens). Who says the 9th is without “Compassion”? In a Compassionate Release appeal, under the First Step Act, the 9th holds that the USSG’s 1B1.13 is not an “applicable policy statement” for such motions filed by a defendant. The USSC’s policy statements, which sets forth various limiting factors, are for BOP’s motions; they may inform the district court’s discretion, but do not control. The 9th vacates and remands the district court’s denial because the court’s denial was based on the motion not meeting the factors in the policy statement.

The 9th’s decision recognizes that the First Step Act creates another means of compassionate release. It can be for “extraordinary and compelling reasons.” This is left undefined.  It expanded the use of such release. The Act does state that motions should be consistent with any policy statements by the Sentencing but there are none: the Sentencing Com’n, lacking a quorum, has not issued policy statements. Thus, courts can determine what are “extraordinary and compelling” reasons.

The 9th’s opinion joins five other circuits.

The 9th also holds that 3582(c)(1) motions are reviewed for abuse of discretion.

The importance of this per curiam opinion is the emphasis on the First Steps Act’s intent to expedite and expand release and that the Guidelines policy statements restrictions on such motions bind only the BOP motions and are not binding on defendant’s motions.

The opinion is here:



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