Thursday, March 13, 2014

AG Holder Supports Proposed 2-Level Decrease to Drug Offense Guidelines

Start incorporating the proposed 2-level decrease into your variance arguments now.  If that proposed amendment becomes official (which it looks like it will), it won’t be official until November 2014.  However, Attorney General Eric Holder voiced his support for the proposed decrease today in his testimony before the U.S. Sentencing Commission, and he also indicated that assistant U.S. attorneys will not oppose variance requests that ask the Court to vary downward in light of the proposed change.

The Commission is accepting comment until March 18, 2014, on its proposed amendments to the Guidelines.

Here are some resources from the U.S. Sentencing Commission:
-          U.S. Sentencing Comm’n, Proposed Amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines 45 (Jan. 17, 2014),
-          U.S. Sentencing Comm’n, News Release, “U.S. Sentencing Commission Seeks Comment on Potential Reduction to Drug Trafficking Sentences” 1 (Jan. 9, 2014),
Some resources regarding the Department of Justice’s position:
-          Horwitz, Sari, Holder Will Call for Reduced Sentences for Low-Level Drug Offenders, Wash. Post (Mar. 13, 2014),
-          Dep’t of Justice, Office of Public Affairs, Attorney General Holder Urges Changes in Federal Sentencing Guidelines to Reserve Harshest Penalties for Most Serious Drug Traffickers (Mar. 13, 2014),

Some related resources regarding changes to mandatory minimums:
-          The Smarter Sentencing Act, S. 1410.
-          U.S. Sentencing Comm’n, News Advisory, “Comment of Judge Patti B. Saris on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Bipartisan Vote to Report the Smarter Sentencing Act” (Jan. 30, 2014),
-          Memorandum from U.S. Att’y Gen. Eric Holder to U.S. Att’ys & Asst. Att’y Gen. for the Crim. Div., Department Policy on Charging Mandatory Minimum Sentences and Recidivist Enhancements in Certain Drug Cases (Aug. 12, 2013), available at

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