United States v. Michael Henry (6th Cir. December 2020)

The Federal Docket

December 21, 2020

Sentencing/First Step Act – The First Step Act’s provisions amending the mandatory minimum sentences under 18 U.S.C. 924(c) are applicable in resentencing hearings on remand.

Michael Henry was convicted of multiple 18 U.S.C. 924(c). After multiple appeals, his case was remanded to the district court for resentencing. Prior to his resentencing hearing, however, Congress passed the First Step Act, which amended 924(c) to make the increased mandatory minimum penalties only applicable if a defendant had a “final” prior conviction under 924(c).

At issue was whether the district court could sentence him under the amended version of 924(c) or was bound by the version of the law in place at the time of Henry’s offense or initial sentencing, which would result in a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 55 years. The district court chose the latter, and Henry appealed.

Citing congressional intent, the rule of lenity, sentencing disparities, and the plain text of the law, the Sixth Circuit held as a matter of first impression that the First Step Act’s amendments to 924(c) applied in resentencing proceedings.

Judge Gibbons dissented, arguing that Henry’s sentence for the 924(c) conviction had already been imposed and that the limited remand for sentencing on the other counts did not give the district court authority to resentence Henry on the 924(c) counts.

On Appeal from the Eastern District of Michigan
Opinion by Moore, joined by Merritt
Dissent by Gibbons

Click here to read the opinion

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

Scroll to Top