Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Brown: District Court Erred by Failing to Conduct a Re-sentencing Hearing After Granting his 2255 Motion

In United States v. Brown, Nos. 16-14267, 14284 (Jan. 18, 2018) (Martin, Marcus, Newsom), the Court held that the district court, after granting the defendant's 2255 motion based on Johnson, erred by failing to hold a re-sentencing hearing with the defendant present before it imposed the 10-year statutory maximum.  The defendant was entitled to a re-sentencing hearing with the opportunity to allocute, because the new 10-year sentence represented an unexplained upward variance from the revised guideline range, and the court did not consider the 3553(a) factors during the original sentencing proceeding but simply relied on what was then 15-year mandatory  minimum. 

More broadly, the Court reasoned that, to determine whether a defendant is entitled to a new re-sentencing hearing after a successful 2255 motion, it will ask whether the grant of post-conviction relief undermined the sentence as a whole (for example, implicating the sentencing package doctrine), and whether the sentencing court will be required to exercise significant discretion in modifying the defendant's sentence, perhaps on issues that it was not previously called on to consider at the original sentencing.  If so, then the new sentence will be a critical stage in the proceeding, requiring a hearing with the defendant present.