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United States v. Laughlin

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

September 23, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ALAN D. LAUGHLIN, Defendant.

          OPINION

          RICHARD MILLS, United States District Judge:

         Pending is Defendant Alan D. Laughlin’s motion for compassionate release under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A), based on a diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer.

         As directed, the Government filed a response to the motion.

         The Defendant filed a reply to the response.

         I.

         On July 9, 2013, the Court imposed a 176-month term of imprisonment following the Defendant’s guilty plea to one count of Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute. The Defendant was sentenced as a career offender.

         In October 2018, the Defendant was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer that has metastasized, spreading to his liver and lymph nodes. He is currently incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina. His projected release date is March 9, 2025, with credit for good time reduction.

         The Defendant previously submitted a Request for Reduction in Sentence, often referred to as Compassionate Release, on March 18, 2019. That request was denied by the Acting Warden on March 21, 2019, on the basis that he “did not meet the criteria under Terminal Medical Conditions at this time, ” as defined in the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Prisons, Program Statement 5050.50, issued January 17, 2019, which sets forth the Procedures for Implementation of 18 U.S.C. § 3582, as amended by the First Step Act of 2018.

         On June 11, 2019, Dr. Andres Carden, a Bureau of Prisons physician, noted in a memorandum that “[t]his patient is a candidate for Reduction in Sentence. His life expectancy is 18 months.” On June 26, 2019, the Defendant submitted a second Request for a Reduction in Sentence due to a terminal medical condition. That request was forwarded to the Bureau of Prisons Central Office for further review.

         On August 22, 2019, the Defendant filed the instant motion.

         II.

         The compassionate release statute, 18 U.S.C. § 3582, was amended by Section 603(b) of the First Step Act on December 21, 2018. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i), a court may reduce the term of imprisonment if it finds that “extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant such a reduction” and “such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.” The Sentencing Commission’s Policy Statement, § 1B1.13, Application Note 1(A), lists “metastatic solid-tumor cancer” as an example of an “extraordinary and compelling reason” to reduce a sentence under § 3582(c)(1)(A). The application note also provides that a specific prognosis as to life expectancy is not required.

         The Defendant notes that colon cancer is a solid-tumor cancer which, in his case, has metastasized to his liver and lymph nodes. Therefore, the Sentencing Commission’s policy statement establishes there is an extraordinary and compelling reason to reduce the Defendant’s sentence.

         Since the President signed the First Step Act on December 21, 2018, § 3582 was amended to provide the sentencing judge with jurisdiction to consider a defense motion for reduction of sentence based on extraordinary and compelling reasons whenever “the defendant has fully exhausted all administrative rights to appeal a failure of the Bureau of Prisons to bring a motion on the defendant’s behalf, ” or after “the lapse of 30 days from the receipt ...


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