FAMM always brings a unique perspective to important criminal law cases before the Supreme Court that could have an impact on sentencing law. This term was no exception. We filed amicus, a/k/a friend of the court briefs in Koons v. U.S. and Rosales-Mireles v. U.S.
In Koons, the court considered whether a defendant who had received a substantial assistance departure below the mandatory minimum could also get the benefit of a retroactive sentencing guideline reduction. We argued that mandatory minimums interfere with discretionary, flexible sentencing; give prosecutors the power to determine a sentence, which sometimes results in tremendous injustice; and fail to deter offenders, reduce crime, or induce cooperation. Referring to our many members in prison and their loved ones, we told the court how detrimental mandatory minimums are to both the community and our trust in the criminal justice system.
Unfortunately, the court ruled against Mr. Koons, saying that retroactive reductions can only be applied when the defendant is sentenced based on a federal sentencing guideline. FAMM was deeply disappointed, but we will continue to argue in favor of smarter sentencing.
Fortunately, in Rosales-Mireles, we were on the winning side. The case asked whether an appeals court should correct an error which resulted in a sentence that was several months longer for the defendant. Our brief argued that even small amounts of time erroneously spent in prison are harmful and "any error which produces a longer prison sentence has constitutional significance." We brought the court three voices of prisoners and former prisoners to make our case; and we won!
You can read our briefs and longer descriptions of these cases on our Supreme Court page. Thank you for your support.