Thursday, December 12, 2013

Court Joins Other Circuits - No General FSA Retroactivity

US v. Black: In 2006 Black was sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of 120 months on a conviction involving crack cocaine. In the wake of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Black filed a motion under 18 USC 3582 arguing that his Guideline range had been reduced and that the FSA applied retroactively and dropped the applicable mandatory minimum sentence to 60 months. The district court denied his motion, relying on prior Fourth Circuit law that the FSA was not retroactive.

On appeal the Fourth Circuit affirmed. In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Dorsey, which held that the FSA applied to anyone sentenced after its enactment, the court concluded that the FSA was not further retroactive to defendants like Black who had already been sentenced. It rejected Black's argument that the analysis of Dorsey, if not its specific holding, required the FSA be applied retroactively because a 3582 proceeding was a "sentencing proceeding" and that occurred after the FSA was passed. The court noted that the FSA was not, by it's plain language, retroactive; that such a holding was contrary to Fourth Circuit precedent; that Dorsey dealt with a problem not present in 3582 proceedings; and that 3582 proceedings are not "sentencing proceedings."

Judge King concurred, noting that Black's argument might be successful but for prior Fourth Circuit precedent and calling for "congressional and executive action" to remedy the remaining disparity created by the FSA's lack of retroactivity.

No comments: