Reviewing Leniency: Appealability of 18 USC § 3582(c)(2) Sentence Modification Motions
In ordinary circumstances, criminal defendants get only one shot at sentencing. But in a few cases, defendants have a second chance at a more lenient sentence. This Comment considers one of those circumstances: motions under 18 USC § 3582(c)(2) for sentence reduction after retroactive downward adjustment of the Sentencing Guidelines. Specifically, this Comment considers the circuit split over when those motions are appealable. Courts disagree about which statute governs appellate jurisdiction: the general jurisdictional statute permitting appeal of any final decision of a district court (28 USC § 1291) or the specific sentencing jurisdictional statute restricting appeal of otherwise final criminal sentences (18 USC § 3742). This Comment proposes a novel solution: denials of eligibility are appealable under the general jurisdictional statute because they do not impose a new sentence, while grants or denials of leniency once eligibility has been found are appealable under the sentencing jurisdictional statute. Finally, this Comment proposes novel arguments for fitting appeals within the grounds of jurisdiction under the sentencing statute.