February News!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Case News, First Step Act News, Community News


Case News:

Ninth Circuit Win!

Tacoma Research & Writing Specialist Alan Zarky and Seattle AFD Mohammad Hamoudi, along with significant assistance from Seattle AFDs Vicki Lai and Ann Wagner, won a case in the Ninth Circuit, holding that Washington’s second degree murder and second degree assault statutes were not crimes of violence under the Sentencing Guidelines. The decision was based on the breadth of those two statutes, compared to how those crimes are defined in other jurisdictions. This win entitles the client to resentencing and should be a significant benefit to other clients in the future who have convictions under either of these statutes.


Dismissal of Misdemeanor Charges

Tacoma AFD & First Assistant Miriam Schwartz represented an individual charged with possession of an unregistered weapon (firearm) in a federal facility. The client, who possessed and was carrying his valid (State) concealed carry permit, was stopped at the JBLM Madigan gate at 2:30 AM, where he and his car were subjected to a random search. A rifle and ammunition were found in the trunk, as well as a loaded gun on his person (hip). The Military Police confiscated his weapons and he was charged with Possession of an unregistered weapon in a federal facility.

The defense team, which consisted of investigator Mike Stortini, paralegal Carolynn Cohn and Research & Writing Specialist Alan Zarky were ready to win this trial with solid factual and legal defenses. Two days before trial, the Government emailed that the case was being dismissed. The Government has also agreed to return the client’s firearms and ammunition.


First Step Act News:

On December 21, 2018, the President signed into law the First Step Act.  Provisions of the Act which may benefit our clients and former clients include, retroactive application of the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act which reduced mandatory prison terms for defendants with crack cocaine convictions, authorization of legal counsel for prisoners with claims for compassionate release from prison and access to the courts for claims denied or delayed by BOP, and it increased the good time credits by an additional 7 days per year for federal prisoners.

FPD is involved in all three areas.  We are representing a number of prisoners in efforts to reduce sentences under the retroactive application of the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act.  Two clients, one represented by Seattle AFD Dennis Carroll and another represented by FPD Michael Filipovic had their sentences reduced to time served and were released from BOP custody in February.  Other petitions are pending review and decision.  Questions concerning the retroactivity of the Fair Sentencing Act should be addressed to Mr. Carroll.

Our work on compassionate release requests will be directed by Seattle AFD Jennifer Wellman.  Questions about the availability of that relief should be addressed to Ms. Wellman.

With respect to the additional 7 days so good time per year, the BOP is delaying implementation until later this year.  FPD will litigate claims for immediate implementation of this reduction for clients who would be released this year if the additional 7 days were awarded immediately. Seattle AFD Corey Endo is our point person on that litigation, and inquiries should be addressed to her.


Community News:

Daron Morris, former King County Public Defender and friend and former colleague to a number of our current staff and CJA panel, lost his long battle with depression on February 15, 2019. Daron was a long time dedicated public defender and was a member of our CJA panel before he went back to public defense.

More importantly to those who knew Daron was his friendship, kindness, dedication to his family, and the grace with which he handled family tragedy which preceded his death. Daron leaves behind three children and a fiancé, as well as a number of people in our office and on our panel who he touched as a friend and a mentor.

For those who wish to contribute to an education fund set up for Daron’s children, Kim Gordon and Jason Saunders, through Gordon & Saunders, PLLC is managing donations to the Morris Children Education Fund (‘MCEF”). Any checks should be written to Gordon & Saunders, PLLC, with MCEF in the subject line. Please send said checks to 1000 2nd Avenue, Suite 3140, Seattle, WA 98104.

The Seattle Times published Daron’s obituary on February 24, 2019. Contrary to what is written in the obituary, planning is underway for a public memorial service.


Archive Date: 
February, 2019