June 22, 2022

Groundbreaking case successfully reduced client’s decades-long parole under the IRRA.

On June 9, Willkie secured an unprecedented win in D.C. Superior Court in connection with a resentencing motion filed on behalf of pro bono client, Mr. C. When Mr. C was just 17 years old, he was convicted for a series of armed robberies orchestrated by his 34-year-old co-defendant. Mr. C was sentenced to 15-45 years in D.C. and 13 years in Maryland.

In February 2019, Willkie helped Mr. C obtain parole for his D.C. sentence after serving more than 22 years in federal prison. When Mr. C began serving his Maryland sentence, Willkie secured his release once again in October 2019 following a unanimous three-judge panel ruling. However, despite no longer being incarcerated, Mr. C still faced over two decades of parole in D.C.

In February 2021, Willkie filed a motion under the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act (IRAA), requesting a reduction of Mr. C’s D.C. sentence. The government opposed, arguing that Mr. C was ineligible for IRAA relief because he had already been released on parole and relief under IRAA was available only to incarcerated individuals. Willkie ultimately prevailed on this issue of first impression in October 2021. Not satisfied, the government filed a motion for reconsideration, but Willkie once again prevailed in March 2022. This alone was a significant win that opened the door for other individuals serving lengthy parole terms in D.C. to seek review of their juvenile sentences under IRAA.

At a hearing on June 9, 2022, the Court found that Mr. C was not only eligible, but also deserving of IRAA relief and granted our motion. In recognition of Mr. C’s rehabilitation and the mitigating factors present in his youth, the Court suspended the execution of Mr. C’s sentence. This meant Mr. C’s 19+ years of parole were converted to just five years of supervised probation.

This was the first time an individual on parole was able to successfully utilize IRAA. This unprecedented victory for Mr. C was six years in the making and is a testament to Willkie’s commitment to pro bono work and justice for those in need.

The Willkie team included partner Elizabeth Gray and associates Stephanie Miner, Anna Jugo, Alina Jamil Mian, Anna Occhipinti, John Knoblett, and paralegal Ann Staron. This matter was referred to Willkie through the Firm’s partnership with Washington Lawyers’ Committee.

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