Spencer v. United States (Eleventh Circuit en banc)

Federal rules of habeas corpus allow reduction of a prisoner’s sentence when it was “imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States,” 28 U.S.C. § 2252, and the violation is “a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” In this case, a defendant was sentenced to almost thirteen years in prison, but a later U.S. Supreme Court decision clarified that the federal sentencing guidelines, when properly applied, should have resulted in a sentence of only six years. We argued that the Supreme Court decision interpreting the guidelines applied retroactively, thus making the defendant’s earlier sentence unlawful at the time it was handed down, and that the serious misapplication of the guidelines constituted a “fundamental defect” that should allow for a sentence reduction.


En banc amicus brief