Sentences Reduced by 1,752 Months for 17 Clients in Past 12 Months Following Johnson Decision
In 2015, in a case called Johnson v. United States, the Supreme Court held that the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) was void for vagueness.The ACCA is a United States federal law that provides sentencing enhancements for felons who commit crimes with firearms if they are convicted of certain crimes three or more times. If convicted under ACCA, the law imposes a special mandatory prison term of 15 years.
Following the Johnson decision, the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California (FPD-CDCA) formed Team Johnson, consisting of Deputy Federal Public Defenders, paralegals and legal assistants. Team Johnson was tasked with reviewing all convictions and representing anyone in the Central District of California with a viable Johnson claim. Team Johnson filed 215 petitions for a writ of habeas corpus challenging the constitutionality of identical and similarly-worded residual clauses across several statutes and sentencing guidelines. In just the past 12 months, 17 Johnson petitions were granted, saving our clients a potential total of 1,752 months (or 146 years of incarceration). Some clients have already been resentenced with time served and are home with their families.
Many of the Johnson clients who received reduced sentences have expressed their gratitude for the efforts of the team with phone calls and letters of appreciation. One client, who has an upcoming resentencing hearing scheduled, wrote “I just want to say thank you for all your hard work for fighting for my release after 25 years. I’m thankful to [the Johnson team]. You truly have a heart with your job. No matter my outcome . . ., I’m still thankful to you, and I appreciate you.”