Cases & Deals

Efrain Lora secures unanimous Supreme Court win for judicial discretion in criminal sentencing

Client(s) Lora, Efrain

On behalf of Efrain Lora, Jones Day urged the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve the confusion surrounding an important criminal sentencing statutory interpretation matter. Mr. Lora was convicted of a federal offense involving the use of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime that resulted in death. He received mandatory consecutive sentences for that and another offense, even though the default rule is that the sentencing judge has discretion whether to run multiple sentences concurrently or consecutively unless a statute clearly removes that discretion. Jones Day argued that the Court should resolve a circuit split over whether the statute under which Lora's sentence was imposed triggers a bar on concurrent sentences found in a different statutory provision that sets forth some of the underlying elements for which Lora was convicted.

In a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Jackson, the Court agreed that the provision under which Mr. Lora was sentenced is not subject to a consecutive-sentence mandate. Therefore, sentencing judges have discretion whether to run sentences under that provision either concurrently or consecutively. The Court agreed with Jones Day’s textual and related arguments and held that the provision under which Mr. Lora was sentenced does not incorporate the separate provision’s consecutive-sentence mandate.

Lora v. United States, No. 22-49 (U.S.)