United States v. Duffey, No. 22-10265 (5th Cir. 2024)Annotate this Case
In 2009, defendants Corey Deyon Duffey, Jarvis Dupree Ross, and Tony R. Hewitt were convicted on numerous counts of conspiracy, attempted bank robbery, and bank robbery, as well as using a firearm in furtherance thereof, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Following several appeals, resentencings, and unsuccessful motions to vacate their sentences, the defendants appealed once again, this time arguing that § 403 of the First Step Act should apply to their resentencing. This Act eliminates sentence stacking, so each defendant would be subject to only the five-year mandatory minimum sentence set by § 924(c) rather than the 25-year mandatory minimums for every additional § 924(c) conviction that they were serving.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that § 403 of the First Step Act does not apply to the defendants' resentencing. The court's decision was based on the interpretation of the phrase "a sentence" in § 403(b) of the Act, which the court concluded refers to any sentence that has been imposed for the offense, even one that was subsequently vacated. Therefore, because sentences for the defendants' offenses had been imposed upon them prior to the First Step’s Act’s December 21, 2018 enactment date, § 403(a) of the First Step Act does not apply to their resentencing.
Additionally, the court ruled that the district court properly applied a two-level sentencing enhancement for physical restraint of a victim during a robbery to defendant Duffey's sentence, as the court's findings showed that in each robbery, the bank managers were held at gunpoint and moved to the vault.
Finally, the court affirmed the district court's decision that it did not have jurisdiction to vacate defendant Hewitt's remaining § 924(c) convictions, as these convictions fell outside of the authorization for Hewitt’s motion to vacate his sentence.
As a result, the court affirmed the district court's decisions on all issues.