United States v. Cooper, No. 20-20485 (5th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's denial without prejudice of defendant's motion for compassionate release. The court joined other circuits in its subsequent opinion, United States v. Shkambi, No. 20-40543, 2021 WL 1291609 (5th Cir. Apr. 7, 2021), holding that district courts are not bound by the policy statement in USSG 1B1.13 when considering motions brought by prisoners like defendant under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A).
The court explained that Shkambi forecloses the government's contention that section 1B1.13 applies to defendant's motion for compassionate release. In this case, the district court declined to consider whether it had discretion to deviate from the "extraordinary and compelling reasons" articulated in section 1B1.13, including whether it could consider the First Step Act's nonretroactive reduced penalties for 18 U.S.C. 924(c) convictions. Thus, as clarified in Shkambi, the district court effectively considered that policy statement binding. The court also rejected the government's contention that the district court relied solely on the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to reassess defendant's motion for compassionate release.