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United States v. Walls

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 23, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
FELIX WALLS, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING GOVERNMENT'S MOTION TO REDUCE TERM OF IMPRISONMENT TO TIME SERVED

          ROBERT H. CLELAND, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On February 20, 2003, the court sentenced Defendant Felix Walls to life imprisonment, with five years of supervised release required in the event he were ever released. Now before the court is a motion filed by the United States of America, specifically the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (the Government), to modify Defendant Felix Walls's term of imprisonment, reducing it to “time served, ” or about 22 years. The relevant statute requires that the court find factual support in “extraordinary and compelling reasons [to] warrant such a reduction.” 21 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(I). No. hearing is required. E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2).

         Typically, a court may not modify a sentence that has been imposed, absent specific, unusual circumstances. The Government brings this motion seeking what is commonly referred to as “compassionate release” as allowed under 21 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(I). Section 3582 provides that:

The court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed except that-
(1) in any case-
(A) the court, upon motion of the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, may reduce the term of imprisonment (and may impose a term of probation or supervised release with or without conditions that does not exceed the unserved portion of the original term of imprisonment), after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to the extent that they are applicable, if it finds that-
(i) extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant such a reduction; or
(ii) the defendant is at least 70 years of age, has served at least 30 years in prison, pursuant to a sentence imposed under section 3559(c), for the offense or offenses for which the defendant is currently imprisoned, and a determination has been made by the Director of the Bureau of Prisons that the defendant is not a danger to the safety of any other person or the community, as provided under section 3142(g);
and that such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission; and
(B) the court may modify an imposed term of imprisonment to the extent otherwise expressly permitted by statute or by Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure;

         “[T]he phrase 'extraordinary and compelling' generally applies only to inmates who had been diagnosed with a serious and terminal medical condition.” Green v. Marberry, No. 06-CV-12410, 2010 WL 2680554, at *2 (E.D. Mich. July 6, 2010) (citing United States v. Maldonado, 138 F.Supp.2d 328, 333 (E.D.N.Y. 2001). The court acknowledges that other circumstances as well may present a persuasive case of “extraordinariness.” Here, in support of its motion, the Government has submitted a one and-a-half page, five-paragraph motion. The only justification for the requested relief is stated in one cursory paragraph:

Mr. Walls is 75 years old and has served over 22 years of his term of imprisonment. He has a history of Parkinson's disease, osteoarthritis, sciatica, and cardiovascular disease. In addition, he uses a wheelchair to ambulate and requires assistance with his instrumental activities of daily living. Accordingly, he is considered to be experiencing deteriorating physical health that substantially diminishes his ability to function in a correctional facility.

(Dkt. # 705, Pg ID 7222.) No. further support was submitted with the motion, nor has there been any supplementation since the motion was filed. No. supporting medical records have been provided. No. affidavits of Bureau officials or doctors have been offered. The court is left with only a bare statement that amounts to noting that the Defendant has over the course of years advanced in age and now suffers from some forms of ill health associated with advancing age. The court is less than overawed by these asserted bases for immediate release.

         Assessing the allegedly extraordinary nature of the Defendant's ailments, the court is left to guess at the seriousness of Defendant's conditions. Though the court is hesitant to travel too far down the path of supposition, the court will start with, at least facially, the most serious of Defendant's conditions: Parkinson's disease. The court notes that the Government states only that he has “a history of Parkinson's, ” without any details provided as to the stage or symptoms of his alleged condition. While the court acknowledges that Parkinson's is not an insignificant disease, it is commonly known that people diagnosed with Parkinson's can hold jobs, function in society, and take care of themselves, depending on the stage of the disease. Indeed, Janet Reno, Attorney General in the Clinton administration, served actively ...


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