United States v. Bass

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

Brief filed: 03/10/2021


United States v. Bass

6th Circuit Court of Appeals; Case No. 21-1094

Prior Decision

Decision below United States Distr. Court Eastern District of Michigan Case No. 97-80235-1 (January 22, 2021)


In enacting the compassionate release statute, 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i), Congress created a safety valve that allows a sentence in any case to be terminated early under extraordinary and compelling circumstances, regardless of whether the sentence was originally imposed pursuant to a mandatory sentencing provision.  This is clear from the statute’s text, its legislative history, and the practice of federal judges around the country. The Sixth Circuit should explicitly acknowledge that the District Court acted within the authority Congress gave it when it granted compassionate release to Mr. John Bass who was serving a “mandatory minimum” of life in prison “without release.”


Barry J. Pollack, Courtney L. Millian, Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber, LLP, Washington, DC; Stephanie Kessler, NACDL, Cincinnati, OH; Elizabeth Blackwood, NACDL, Washington, DC.

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