By Dan Starck
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Pepper v. United States on December 6th. http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/pepper-v-united-states. The central issue is the Eight Circuit’s ban on consideration of post-sentencing behavior during resentencing. For Jason Pepper, the upshot of the Eight Circuit’s decision is a forced return to prison for the same crime years after his release.
Pepper pled guilty to a federal drug conspiracy charge in 2004. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines suggested a sentence of 97 to 121 months based on the nature of the crime and circumstances. The government moved for a 15% sentence reduction based on Pepper’s “substantial assistance” during the investigation. The trial judge went one step further and sentenced Pepper to 24 months in prison with a five year supervised release based on Pepper’s strong family support, future potential, and likelihood of successful rehabilitation.
The trial judge’s appraisal came to fruition. Pepper was a Bureau of Prisons success story. He served two years in prison where he successfully completed a drug rehabilitation program and had no subsequent criminal history. After his release, he graduated college, started a family, and found a steady job