United States v. Raia

Brief of Amici Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and FAMM in Support of Defendant/Appellee’s Petition for Rehearing and/or Rehearing En Banc.

Brief filed: 04/21/2020


United States v. Raia

3rd Circuit Court of Appeals; Case No. 20-1033

Prior Decision

Panel decision 954 F.3d 594 (Apr. 2, 2020)

Decision below 2019 WL 5395041 (D.N.J. Oct. 22, 2019)


Appellee Raia’s Petition for Rehearing addresses the discretion of a district court to excuse the 30-day waiting period for compassionate release under the First Step Act, 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(1)(A). On April 2, 2020, the Panel declined to remand this case under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 12.1, stating that remand would be “futile.” In so ruling, the Panel necessarily concluded that the 30-day waiting period cannot be excused or waived. That conclusion was inconsistent with both Supreme Court and Circuit precedent. The ruling creates inconsistency in the Circuit’s treatment of all claims-processing rules, and undermines courts’ equitable authority in a wide range of cases. The30-day waiting period is a nonjurisdictional claims-processing rule. Courts may excuse noncompliance with that rule absent an express prohibition on doing so. Remand is therefore not “futile.” The Panel’s sua sponte conclusion to the contrary was error. Rehearing should be granted to correct the Panel’s error and confirm that judges are empowered to address “extraordinary and compelling” circumstances even when they arise exigently. At a minimum, the Panel should grant rehearing and order full briefing on this important issue, which was neither decided below nor fully briefed on appeal.


Roberto Finzi, Liza M. Velazquez, Karen R. King, Alex M. Hyman, Aaron J. Marks, and Allison T. Pearl, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, New York, NY; Lisa A. Mathewson, Law Offices of Lisa A Mathewson, LLC, Philadelphia, PA; Peter Goldberger, Ardmore, PA.

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