Lora v. United States

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

Brief filed: 01/27/2023


Lora v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 22-49


The question presented is whether 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(l)(D)(ii), which provides that "no term of imprisonment imposed ... under this subsection shall run concurrently with any other term of imprisonment," is triggered when a defendant is convicted and sentenced under 18 U.S.C. § 924(j).  The brief, written by Bruce P. Merenstein and Samuel W. Silver of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis in Philadelphia, elaborates on the centuries-long sentencing principle of trial courts' discretion to select concurrent or consecutive sentences.  

“The issue presented here is whether a statute—Section 924(j)—‘mandates’ that the sentence under that provision and the sentences under other statutes of conviction ‘are to run consecutively.’ While Congress plainly has the authority to mandate imposition of consecutive sentences, it must do so against the backdrop of a default regime under which trial courts are entrusted with substantial discretion in sentencing, including over the critical determination whether multiple sentences are to run concurrently or consecutively. Only ‘clear language’ can displace a well-established ‘default rule’ such as this. Babb v. Wilkie, 140 S. Ct. 1168, 1179-81 (2020) (Thomas, J., dissenting)….Section 924(j) contains no clear language mandating that sentences under that provision run consecutively to other sentences imposed at the same time. Indeed, Section 924(j) is notably silent in addressing the temporal status of any sentences imposed under that subsection; it says nothing about whether such sentences should run concurrently or consecutively. That should end the matter. As Section 3584 provides, a sentence under Section 924(j) should run concurrently to other sentences, unless a district court, exercising its discretion, orders it to run consecutively.”


David M. Porter, NACDL, Sacramento, CA; Bruce P. Merenstein and Samuel L. Silver, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, Philadelphia, PA.

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