Richardson v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: June 17, 2019
  • Case #: 18-7036
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 906 F.3d 417 (6th Cir. 2018)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the First Step Act of 2018 applies to defendants who were sentenced prior to its enactment but whose convictions and sentences remain pending on direct review.

Petitioner was convicted of multiple counts under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Federal law imposed mandatory minimum sentencing for the first charge and increased penalties for each subsequent charge. Petitioner was sentenced by the district court, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed. Petitioner filed for certiorari, arguing that the residual clause of § 924(c) was unconstitutional under Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). The Supreme Court vacated the Sixth Circuit’s judgment and remanded. The district court reinstated Petitioner’s original sentence, and the circuit court affirmed on different grounds, holding that under § 924(c)'s force clause, Petitioner’s sentence was "procedurally and substantively sound." Petitioner now argues that he should be resentenced under the First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-391 (2018) ("FSA"), which was enacted after Petitioner filed for certiorari. The FSA amended the statute's sentencing provision, requiring that the increased penalty only be applied to a conviction when it follows a "prior final conviction," rather than when a defendant has no prior convictions but the present indictment contains multiple charges. Petitioner further argues that this Court should follow precedent set in Griffith v. Kentucky, 49 U.S. 314 (1987), in which the Court held that cases pending review are not final and are, therefore, subject to new sentencing rules. The Court granted certiorari and issued a summary order with instructions to the Sixth Circuit to consider the FSA. VACATED and REMANDED.

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