Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, May 07, 2021

Bryant: USSG 1B1.13 Remains an "Applicable Policy Statement" Limiting Compassionate Release

In United States v. Bryant, No. 19-14267 (May 7, 2021) (Brasher, Luck, Martin), the Court affirmed the denial of compassionate release.

Breaking with the seven other circuits to address the issue, the Court held that USSG 1B1.13 remains an “applicable policy statement,” and thus constrains courts considering a defendant-filed 3582(c)(1)(A) motions.  The Court also held that Application Note 1(D)—a catchall provision for defining “extraordinary and compelling” circumstances—applies only to BOP-filed motions, and so defendant-filed motions must therefore satisfy one of the other criteria in Application Note 1(A)-(C).

Judge Martin dissented in a 20-page opinion, emphasizing that the majority limits inmates’ ability to seek compassionate release, prevents courts from conducting independent and individualized consideration, and revives the problem that the First Step Act was meant to resolve by leaving the determination in BOP’s control.