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    • Brief

    United States v. Estrada-Elias, 2021 WL5505499, No. 21-5680 (6th Cir. Nov. 24, 2021)

    Opinion and Order

    Argument: Case started out as an excessive sentence case (the two §851s that created life mandatory mininum wouldn't apply today), but due to bad case law in Sixth Cicuit, attorney Chloe Smith smartly pivoted to more traditional/COVID arguments. After Judge Danny Reeves in the EDKY denied the motion, Chloe appealed the denial of the CR motion to the Sixth Circuit. 

    The Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s denial of compassionate release to a 90-year-old, terminally ill, bedridden defendant serving mandatory life for non-violent marijuana offense that would only be subject to a 10-year mandatory minimum today. In reversing, the Sixth Circuit found that the “district court’s analysis of the 18 U.S.C § 3553(a) factors leaves us “ ‘with a definite and firm conviction that the district court committed a clear error of judgment.’ ”

    By overly emphasizing Estrada-Elias’s history of nonviolent crimes, ignoring the low likelihood that Estrada-Elias will re-offend, and mischaracterizing the reality of the gap between Estrada-Elias’s present and prior convictions, the district court engaged in a substantively unreasonable balancing of the § 3553(a) factors and therefore abused its discretion.


    The court reversed and remanded for Judge Reeves to make a finding on extraordinary and compelling reasons prong, which it has assumed applied without actually holding as such.