Dean v. United States

Brief of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Families Against Mandatory Minimums as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner.

Brief filed: 12/23/2016


Dean v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 15-9260

Prior Decision

Case below 810 F.3d 521 (8th Cir. Dec. 29, 2015).


Judicial discretion to consider all information about the case and the offender is a time-honored principle of American law. Judicial discretion has historically been understood as a means of ensuring justice in individual cases. Congress has expressly affirmed judges' discretion to consider the fullest information possible. Abrogating judicial discretion in the sentencing context requires a clear statement of congressional intent. Section 924(c) does not abrogate a district court's discretion to consider the length of the section 924(c) mandatory minimum in imposing a sentence on the underlying offense. Sentence 924(c) does not clearly evince congressional intent to abrogate judicial discretion to consider the mandatory minimum sentence. Any ambiguity in section 924(c) must be resolved in favor of the defendant.

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Craig D. Singer, Amy Mason Saharia, and Chanakya A. Sethi, Williams & Connolly LLP, Washington, DC; Barbara E. Bergman, NACDL, Tucson, AZ; Peter Goldberger, Ardmore, PA; Mary Price, FAMM, Washington, DC.