District of Maryland Grants Compassionate Release in Stacked 924(c) case: Graham
The district of Maryland grants a compassionate release to a person who has both an ACCA enhancement as well as several Stacked 924(c) offenses.
FACTS: Bank robber gets mandatory minimum 147 years
Graham was charged with six armed robberies spread across four days in 2011. It was alleged that he entered the banks, "brandished a handgun during five of the robberies, engaged in violence, and threatened workers and customers."
Graham faced an enhanced sentence due to the Armed Career Criminal Act as well as stacked 924(c) penalties:
"Graham was also subject to a mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of seven years for the first § 924(c) conviction and what were then believed to be mandatory minimum consecutive sentences of 25 years for each of the five additional § 924(c) convictions. This Court sentenced Graham to the then-mandatory minimum term of 147 years in prison."
Graham sought a reduction in sentence under 18 USC 3582 based on his "vulnerability to severe illness from the COVID-19 virus [and] any disparity between the length of Graham’s sentence and the sentence he would receive today for the same offenses."
Graham's Compassionate Release
The court indicated that although Graham is 59 years old and has a BMI of over 27.2 and suffers chronic hypertension and hyperlipidemia, he has also refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine, something that severely undercuts his claim of extraordinary and compelling reasons to receive a reduction:
"Graham has also refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine...As Judge Blake of this Court has noted, “a refusal to be vaccinated, in the absence of a documented medical reason, undercuts a claim of extraordinary and compelling reasons for compassionate release.” ...Graham has presented no such documented medical reason. Accordingly, this Court concludes that Graham’s vulnerability to severe illness from COVID-19 does not constitute an “extraordinary and compelling” reason for compassionate release."
Graham also argued that his stacked 924(c) convictions constituted extraordinary and compelling reasons. Following McCoy, the Maryland court noted that intervening changes in sentencing law may constitute extraordinary and compelling reasons that justify a motion for sentence reduction. On this ground, Graham had action:
"Graham’s 147-year sentence is largely driven by six stacked 924(c) counts. In alignment with McCoy, and with the growing consensus of district courts facing this issue, this Court has no difficulty finding that Graham’s stacked sentence is an 'extraordinary and compelling' ground for relief."
The court determined that the 3553(a) factors warranted a reduction but only down to their mandatory minimum.
"The offenses of which Graham was convicted are extremely serious and violent. Graham participated in six armed robberies while on federal supervision for a prior bank robbery conviction. Any further reduction of Graham’s sentence would not provide just punishment or promote respect for the law. This Court also recognizes a need to protect the public from Graham, who has demonstrated that he is inclined to engage in violent conduct that threatens the safety of the community. This Court also notes, however, that Graham has expressed a degree of remorse for his past conduct and has maintained employment while incarcerated."
The court reduced Graham's sentence on the 924(c) counts to 84 months each (because he brandished them instead of possessing them). This reduced his total sentence down to 1,764 months down to 684 months (57 years) in prison. RDB-11-094