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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.  



    • Brief

    St. Hubert v. United States

    Brief for Amicus Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Petitioner (on petition for writ of certiorari).

    Argument: It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial branch to say what the law is, not what the law was. But in the Eleventh Circuit, petitioner and scores of other defendants like him have their cases decided on the basis of law otherwise recognized as repudiated by intervening precedent from this Court. Alone among the circuit courts, the Eleventh Circuit requires direct instruction from the Supreme Court to revisit its prior precedent; without it, rationale widely considered clearly erroneous in light of subsequent Supreme Court case law is still applied to defeat defendants’ appeals. Because the Eleventh Circuit’s internal rules require Supreme Court precedent to be “directly on point” to allow reconsideration of its past case law, it takes a narrower view of Supreme Court rationale than does this Court. Where, as in this case, a court acknowledges that the Supreme Court’s intervening rationale is “at odds with” its binding precedent and yet forecloses argument on the issue, a defendant’s due process right to a meaningful appeal is violated. Review is warranted because the Eleventh Circuit's practice is impermissible and inconsistent with all other circuits. The problem is important, recurring, and squarely presented. For this reason, and those in the petition, the Court should grant certiorari.