Tyrone Davis persuades en banc panel of Ninth Circuit to extend retroactive crack cocaine sentencing guidelines to defendants with binding plea agreements
Jones Day pro bono client Tyrone Davis persuaded an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit to hold that defendants sentenced pursuant to a binding plea agreement under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) are eligible to receive a sentence reduction under the Sentencing Commission’s retroactive amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines.
The U.S. Supreme Court addressed the same issue in Freeman v. United States, 564 U.S. 522 (2011), but its reasoning was fractured and no rationale commanded a majority of the Justices. The Ninth Circuit held that where a plurality and concurring opinion do not share common reasoning, lower courts are bound only by the “specific result” of the case. Given that no opinion in Freeman controls, the Ninth Circuit adopted the plurality’s rule that even when a defendant enters into an 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement, the defendant is eligible to seek a sentence reduction if the judge’s decision to accept the plea is based on the sentencing guidelines.
Under that standard, the Ninth Circuit held that Mr. Davis is eligible for a sentence reduction and remanded for the district court to consider reducing Mr. Davis’ sentence. Mr. Davis has been in prison since 2004 even though his recommended sentence under the revised sentencing guidelines would be 78-97 months.
United States v. Tyrone Davis, No. 13-30133 (9th Cir. June 13, 2016)