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FAMM’s next steps in the courts January 24, 2019

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , add a comment

Mary Price, General Counsel of FAMM, writes:

FAMM has been very busy in the courts over the last few months. I wanted to share the latest news with you, and what FAMM’s next steps will be.

We recently filed friend-of-the-court (or “amicus”) briefs supporting two prisoners challenging the BOP’s refusal to file a motion for their compassionate release. We are happy to report that, before these cases could even be decided, the First Step Act settled the question. Today, prisoners denied compassionate release can go straight to the sentencing court.

We’re also involved in two cases involving mandatory minimums. One considers when a judge may allow a jury to hear that a conviction will trigger a mandatory minimum sentence. The government routinely threatens or charges counts that result in mandatory minimums. Judges cannot change a mandatory minimum sentence, no matter how unjust. We think that the only check on the abuse of power in a case like this might be an informed jury.

In another case, one before the Supreme Court, our brief agrees that a jury must find facts beyond a reasonable doubt before they can be used to trigger a mandatory minimum intended to punish a supervised release violation.

Requests also keep coming in for amicus briefs from FAMM. In one, we’ve been asked to weigh in on a question that has vexed the Supreme Court for decades: how to determine what is a crime of violence when Congress has been less than clear in writing the definition. The case, United States v. Davis, also involves a mandatory minimum sentence; so we will be sure to participate.

You can read about all these cases, as well as our amicus briefs, by visiting our website.