Yesterday, Senior U.S. District Judge Orinda Evans granted our firm’s motion for compassionate release and released our client from prison after he had served 15 years of a 64-year sentence. We requested his immediate release based on his pre-existing medical conditions, which increased his risk of severe illness from COVID-19. We also challenged the excessiveness of his sentence, which was the product of mandatory minimum sentencing laws and DOJ policies that are no longer in effect today.
Fifteen years ago, our client committed three bank robberies in Atlanta and was convicted on federal charges of armed bank robbery and using a firearm during a crime of violence, also known as a “924(c)” charge. At the time our client was prosecuted, 18 U.S.C. 924(c) required a mandatory minimum of 5 years on the first conviction and 25 years on each subsequent conviction, even if the multiple 924(c) charges are from the same case. Our client was charged with three 924(c) counts, and the DOJ policy at the time would have required him to plead guilty to two of them or face trial. Facing at least 40 years in prison even with a guilty plea, and even though he had already confessed to his crime and accepted responsibility for his conduct, our client went to trial to preserve his constitutional rights. He was convicted by the jury and, based on the mandatory minimum sentences for the 924(c) charges, the judge sentenced our client, then 45 years old, to 64 years in prison. This amounted to a life sentence.
As required in a motion for compassionate release, we argued that there were “extraordinary and compelling reasons” warranting our client’s release from prison because he would have never received such a long sentence under today’s sentencing laws and because he had several medical conditions that increased his risk of developing a severe, possibly fatal, illness from COVID-19. After we filed our motion, the Government chose not to object to our request for release.
The judge issued our client’s immediate release from the penitentiary, to be followed by 14 days of self-quarantine at home, a place our client never expected to return after serving 15 years believing he would die in prison.