The First Step Act of 2018 promised relief to inmates serving disproportionately long sentences for cocaine base distribution. Section 404, the focus of this Article, seemed straightforward. But in the spring and summer of 2019, district judges began reviewing section 404 cases and reaching dissonant results. Appeals followed, focused on four questions of judicial authority: (1) Who may judges resentence?, (2) May judges engage in plenary resentencing or merely sentence reduction?, (3) May judges resentence all concurrent criminal convictions or only crack cocaine convictions?, and (4) Must judges adopt the operative drug quantity from the original sentencing? Today, the law of section 404 remains incomplete in every circuit. This Article reviews the legislative history, text, and legal context of section 404. It finds that Congress intended broad judicial authority in section 404 resentencings.
Judicial Authority Under the First Step Act: What Congress Conferred Through Section 404,
Loy. U. Chi. L. J.
Available at: https://lawecommons.luc.edu/luclj/vol52/iss1/5