In United States v. Handlon, No. 22-13699 (Apr. 3, 2024) (Rosenbaum, Grant, Ed Carnes) (per curiam), the Court affirmed the denial of a motion for compassionate release.

Mr. Handlon moved for compassionate release, contending that his eighty-five-year-old father had severe medical issues and needed help.  He requested that he be released to spend what time he had left with his father.  The district court denied the motion because Mr. Handlon did not provide any supporting documentation regarding his father’s condition or care, or whether he was the only available caretaker.  Mr. Handlon tried to provide the court with further information, which the court construed as a motion for reconsideration and denied.

This Court noted that when Mr. Handlon filed his motion, the Sentencing Commission had not yet amended its policy statement, and the district court was bound by Bryant‘s holding regarding the old catchall category–«other reasons» as determined by the Director of the Bureau of Prisons–that Congress delegated the power to define what should be considered extraordinary and compelling reasons for a sentence reduction to the Sentencing Commission, not the courts.  As a result, the Court held that Mr. Handlon was ineligible for compassionate release because he failed to present an extraordinary and compelling reason for relief recognized by the Sentencing Commission’s policy statement.  That is, Mr. Handlon’s need to care for an incapacitated parent was not included in the list of reasons the Sentencing Commission considered to be “extraordinary and compelling,” so his motion was properly denied.

The Court further noted, though, that since the parties litigated this case, the policy statement has been amended to include in its definitions of “extraordinary and compelling reasons” a circumstance that is closer to the ground Mr. Handlon asserted: “The incapacitation of the defendant’s parent when the defendant would be the only available caregiver for the parent.”  While it could not retroactively apply that amendment to this appeal–as urged by Mr. Handlon–the Court agreed that Mr. Handlon could file a new motion for compassionate release.