Birt v. United States

Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioner.

Brief filed: 10/05/2020


Birt v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 20-291

Prior Decision

Decision below 966 F.3d 257 (3d Cir. July 20, 2020)


Certiorari is warranted because the Third Circuit’s decision prohibits a whole class of crack-cocaine offenders from being eligible for resentencing under the First Step Act while identically situated defendants in other circuits may be resentenced.  The Third Circuit’s rule is inconsistent with Congress’s goal of providing relief to low-level drug offenders because it excludes the lowest-level offenders and those with uncertain drug amounts from resentencing while allowing those who possessed greater amounts of crack cocaine to obtain relief.  Defendants convicted for possessing lower-quantities of crack cocaine could receive substantial sentence reductions even though they remain eligible for the same sentence.  The Third Circuit’s rule frustrates Congress’s goal of providing relief to the disproportionate number of Black Americans incarcerated for crack-cocaine offenses.


David J. Zimmer and Emily Notini, Goodwin Procter LLP, Boston, MA; Benjamin Hayes, Goodwin Procter LLP, Washington, DC;  Jeffrey T. Green, NACDL, Washington, DC.

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