United States v. Newton, No. 20-2893 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
In 2009, Newton pleaded guilty to bank robberies, and possessing and discharging a firearm during a bank robbery, and was sentenced to 220 months’ imprisonment. In May 2020, Newton sought compassionate release, arguing that his asthma, combined with prison mismanagement of the pandemic, constituted an extraordinary and compelling reason for his release under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A)(i), and that his prolonged use of a corticosteroid to treat his asthma weakens his immune system, putting him at greater risk. Newton provided a detailed plan for his release and added that a third condition, hypertension. In July 2020, Newton contracted COVID-19. Three weeks later, a prison physician noted that his infection had “resolved” and that he “did not have a severe illness requiring hospitalization.” Newton still reported “recurrent intermittent coughs, headaches, and asthma flare-ups.” The district court denied his request, stating only: The Government contends, however, that Newton has not demonstrated extraordinary and compelling reasons to warrant a sentence reduction. I agree. … The CDC … has not been able to determine conclusively that [Newton’s conditions[ pose an increased danger.…. the prison has lately succeeded in drastically reducing active cases.”
The Seventh Circuit vacated. When an inmate like Newton presents individualized arguments along with a meaningfully detailed record, the district court’s opinion must establish that it considered those individualized arguments and properly exercised its discretion.