United States District Court, D. Arizona
K. Jorgenson United States District Judge.
before the Court is the Motion for Sentence Reduction
Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) and the First Step
Act of 2018 (Doc. 875) filed by Lyle Gerald Johns
(“Johns”). The government has filed a response
(Doc. 885) and Johns has submitted a reply (Doc. 890). The
parties presented evidence and argument to the Court on June
3, 2019. The government takes no position on whether
Johns' request for compassionate release should be
found Johns guilty of one count of possession and one count
of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana,
and two counts of possession and one count of conspiracy to
possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Johns was
subsequently sentenced to 40 year terms of imprisonment on
each of the two marijuana-related convictions and concurrent
terms of life imprisonment on each of the three
is now 81 years old and has served almost 23 years of his
sentence. Johns seeks compassionate release pursuant to
Section 603(b)(1) of the First Step Act.
the June 3, 2019, hearing, evidence was presented to the
Court. Clinical Director Heidi Haight-Biehler, D.O.,
testified she physically examined Johns with regards to his
request for a reduction in sentence and reviewed his
activities of daily living. Dr. Haight-Biehler testified BOP
cannot provide conventional treatment that would
substantially improve Johns' mental or physical condition
because his medical condition is age-related.
Aaron Nava testified Johns' mobility and ability to
perform day-to-day activities have significantly declined
over time. He also testified that he personally does not feel
Johns is a danger to anybody.
medical records and letters in support of Johns were admitted
into evidence. This includes a letter from Bud Riggs, who
states Johns may reside with him.
First Step Act went into effect on December 21, 2018.
See First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-391, 132
Stat. 5194. Prior to the passage of the First Step Act, only
the Director of the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”)
could file a motion for compassionate release. Section 603(b)
of the First Step Act modified 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)
with the intent of “increasing the use and transparency
of compassionate release.” Pub. L. No. 115-391, 132
Stat. 5194, at *5239 (capitalization omitted). That section
now provides that a sentencing court may modify a sentence
either upon a motion of the Director of the BOP “or
upon motion of the defendant after [he] has fully exhausted
all administrative rights to appeal a failure of the [BOP] to
bring a motion on [his] behalf or the lapse of 30 days from
the receipt of such a request by the warden of the
defendant's facility . . . ” 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(1)(A). Johns and the government agree Johns has
exhausted his administrative rights.
moves for compassionate release pursuant to this section. A
sentencing court may grant such a request where
“extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant such a
reduction” and the “reduction is consistent with
applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing
Commission . . . ” Id. The Application Notes
of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines § 1B1.13 provides, in
relevant part, that extraordinary and compelling reasons
(A) Medical Condition of the Defendant.__
(i) The defendant is suffering from a terminal illness (i.e.,
a serious and advanced illness with an end of life
trajectory). A specific prognosis of life expectancy (i.e., a
probability of death within a specific time period) is not
required. Examples include metastatic solid-tumor cancer,
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), end-stage organ disease,
and advanced dementia.
(ii) The defendant is__
(I) suffering from a serious physical or medical condition,
(II) suffering from a serious functional or cognitive
(III) experiencing deteriorating physical or mental health
because of the aging process, that substantially diminishes
the ability of the defendant to provide self-care within the
environment of a correctional facility and from which he or
she is not expected to recover.
(B) Age of the Defendant.__ The defendant (i) is at least 65
years old; (ii) is experiencing a serious deterioration in
physical or mental health because of the aging process; and
(iii) has served at least 10 years or 75 percent of his or
her term of imprisonment, whichever is less.
U.S.S.G. 1B1.13, App. Notes.
exercising discretion under § 3553(a) and the First Step
Act, compassionate release “due to medical
conditions” is generally treated as “a rare
event.” White v. United States, - F.Supp.3d -,
-, 2019 WL 2067223, at *2 (W.D. Mo. May 9, 2019); see
also United States v. Clark, 2019 WL 1052020 (W.D. N.C.
Mar. 5, 2019) (denying relief, which is
“extraordinary”); United States v.
Gutierrez, 2019 WL 1472320, at *2 (D.N.M. Apr. 3, 2019)
(same); United States v. Casey, No. 1:06CR00071,
2019 WL 1987311, at *1 (W.D. Va. May 6, 2019) (same).
Prisoners typically only obtain relief after serving a
significant term of incarceration. See, e.g., ...