Cases & Deals

Associate Jon Feczko wins Sixth Circuit appeal on behalf of prisoner in sentencing guidelines case

Clients Priester, Xavier Alexander

Trial Practice associate Jonathan F. Faczko (Cleveland) successfully represented Xavier Priester in a pro bono appeal of his sentencing for conspiracy to distribute cocaine, crack cocaine, and other controlled substances. Mr. Priester was sentenced to 180 months in prison by the District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Thereafter, the United States Supreme Court in Spears v. United States, 555 U.S. 261 (2009) expressly stated that district courts have the power to "vary categorically" from the federal sentencing guidelines based on a policy disagreement with the then-existing 100:1 disparity between powder and crack cocaine sentencing.

Relying on the decision in Spears, Jon argued that the district court failed to recognize its authority to vary categorically from the guidelines. In a 2 to 1 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, vacated Mr. Priester's sentence, and remanded the case for further proceedings