In United States v. Clowers, No. 20-13074 (Mar. 14, 2023) (Jill Pryor, Grant, Anderson), the Court affirmed the denial of a motion for reduced sentence under Section 404 of the First Step Act.
The Court first agreed with the parties that engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise involving crack under 21 U.S.C. 848 was a “covered offense” under Section 404. The defendant received a mandatory life sentence before Apprendi, and the judge rather than a jury made drug quantity findings for purpose of sentencing. Applying the Eleventh Circuit’s decisions in Jones/Jackson, the Court held that the district court remained bound by that judge-made drug-quantity finding when determining what the statutory range would be under the Fair Sentencing Act. Because the statutory range would remain the same based on that judge-made drug-quantity finding, and because the defendant received the statutory minimum sentence of life, the district court could not reduce his sentence under Section 404.