United States v. Tinker (11th Cir. September 2021); United States v. Giron (11th Cir. October 2021);

The Federal Docket

October 20, 2021

The Eleventh Circuit issued a pair of important rulings regarding compassionate release motions brought by inmates under 18 USC 3582(c)(1)(A).

In United States v. Tinker, the defendant filed a motion for release based on his medical conditions and increased risk of developing a severe illness should he contract COVID-19. The district court assumed the defendant showed extraordinary and compelling circumstances but denied the motion after considering the 18 USC 3553(a) factors and the policy statement under USSG 1B1.13.

The Court rejected Tinker’s arguments that the district court erred in assuming he presented extraordinary and compelling reasons without making explicit findings of fact, in treating 1B1.13 as binding, and in failing to consider his mitigating evidence when assessing the 3553(a) factors. The Court reiterated that nothing compels district courts to consider whether there are extraordinary and compelling reason before considering the 3553(a) factors or 1B1.13. As such, courts can assume a defendant meets certain factors while denying their motion based on another factor or in their discretion, and they are not bound to consider any of the factors in any particular order.

In United States v. Giron, the defendant argued that the district court erred in relying on USSG 1B1.13, an argument the Court rejected based on its holding in United States v. Bryant that 1B1.13 remains a binding policy statement. Nor did the district court err in finding Giron had not presented extraordinary and compelling reasons , since Giron’s medical conditions did not rise to the level required under 1B1.13.

The Court also held that the district court did not err in denying his motion without weighing the sentencing factors under 3553(a), citing Tinker‘s holding that a court can go in any order. As such, district courts may deny a compassionate release motion after analyzing only one of the statutory requirements under 3582(c)(1)(A).

United States v. Tinker
Appeal from the Southern District of Florida
Per Curiam Opinion by Wilson, Newsom, and Branch

Click here to read the opinion.

United States v. Giron
Appeal from the Middle District of Florida
Opinion by Anderson, joined by Lagoa and Newsom

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.

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