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On June 17, 2010, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Dillon v. United States.  In this case, the court was asked whether 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(2), which authorized courts to reduce a prison sentence in accordance with a retroactive amendment to the United States Sentencing Guidelines insofar as the new sentence fell within the new Guidelines’ range, also permitted further reduction pursuant to the holding in United States v. Booker, which treated the Guidelines as merely advisory.

In a 7-1 opinion delivered by Justice Sotomayor, the Court held that §3582(c)(2) required reductions to coincide with Sentencing Committee policy, and as the latter precluded reductions inconsistent with the Guidelines, the Booker holding was inapplicable. Since §3582(c)(2) was enacted to grant prisoners the benefits of retroactive sentencing amendments, other grounds for reducing sentences (such as the petitioner’s good behavior) were only relevant insofar as they helped a judge decide whether the prisoner should benefit from the new Guidelines, and did not permit further expansion of the sentencing range.

To discuss the case, we have Ave Maria School of Law Professor Kevin H. Govern.

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