This week, a federal judge in Chicago granted a motion for a sentence reduction, often referred to as “compassionate release,” that we filed for our client—a 72-year-old man who had been sentenced to 78 months in prison for possessing child pornography. The judge reduced our client’s sentence to time served and ordered him to serve the next two years under house arrest.
Our motion was very different from most of the motions filed by inmates seeking compassionate release, as our client was not yet an inmate. Our client was sentenced last summer, and he was required to report to prison this January to begin serving his sentence. At age 72, he faced a legitimate risk of dying in prison before completing his sentence. Now, he will be able to stay out of prison and remain with his family.
Our firm was able to achieve this remarkable, and rare, outcome by preparing a detailed motion with medical records showing that our client was allergic to several ingredients in the available COVID-19 vaccines, which became available to the public after our client was sentenced. We also provided statistics to the judge showing that, without the vaccine, our client would face a significant risk of contracting a severe or fatal illness from COVID-19 while in prison, especially given his age and chronic medical conditions.
While it is uncommon for judges to grant motions for “compassionate release” or sentence reductions before the defendant has started their sentence, the key to winning such a motion is showing the judge that circumstances have changed since they imposed the sentence, or there is important information that the judge didn’t get to consider at the sentencing hearing.
Here, that information was so significant that we persuaded the judge to reduce our client’s 7-year sentence to time served, six months after he imposed the sentence and before our client had served a single day in prison.