United States v. Acoff, No. 10-285-cr (2d Cir. February 10, 2011, amended February 11, 2011) (Calabresi, Lynch, CJJ, Murtha, DJ)
In this case, the defendant was convicted of a crack cocaine offense that, under the old law, carried a five-year mandatory minimum. But the district court refused to impose it. He gave the defendant fifteen months, holding that the 100-to-1 penalty ratio between crack cocaine and powder “does not make any sense at all.”
The court held that the below-minimum sentence was illegal and vacated it. It also, as it has in a few other recent opinions, rejected the argument that the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, under which the sentence would have been lawful, applied retroactively.
Of particular note in this decision, however, are the concurring opinions.
Judge Calabresi, in his, suggested a means for courts to address statutory schemes – such as the old crack cocaine penalties – that, …