United States v. Brian Gall

Brian Gall was a student at the University of Iowa in the early 2000's when he was involved in distributing ecstasy with a number of other students and non-student. After a very short time, Brian decided he did not want to be a part of this activity, so he met with the others involved in this conspiracy and told them he would no longer do this work. He buckled down in school, graduated and left Iowa, eventually living in Winter Park, Colorado. Through a series of mutual friends, Brian found out the people he had associated with in Iowa had been arrested for dealing ecstasy and there might be a federal arrest warrant out for him. Brian came to Boulder, met with me, where we found out there was indeed a federal arrest warrant out for him. Brian hired me, he returned to Iowa and turned himself in and was almost immediately released from federal jail while he was waiting for the resolution of his case. Brian started his own business in Iowa while awaiting the outcome of his case and was a law abiding citizen.

I negotiated a plea bargain for Brian, and during the time between his arrest and his sentencing, a case was decided by the United States Supreme Court, United States v. Booker. Booker was an important case, as the United States Supreme Court decided that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines were no longer mandatory and judges were free to sentence defendants as they saw fit. This was a very important decision, as under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, most defendants were required to be sentenced to prison, even if it was their first offense and it was a relatively minor crime. In fact, Brian was looking at a three year prison sentence under the Sentencing Guidelines.

We had a full day sentencing hearing and I presented a very good case of mitigation and argued for a probation sentence, while the government asked for three years of prison. Judge Pratt, in Des Moines Federal Court, agreed with our position and sentence Brian to three years of probation. The government appealed Judge Pratt's decision and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Pratt and sent Brian's case back for a resentencing to three years of prison pursuant to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

We then asked the United States Supreme Court to review the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning Judge Pratt's decision. The Supreme Court decided that Judge Pratt was correct in sentencing Brian to probation and that they meant what they said in the Booker decision, that the Sentencing Guidelines were only advisory and that it was reasonable to sentence Brian to probation. The next day, Judge Pratt called me to tell me that he was ending Brian's probation early and releasing him from federal jurisdiction.

The importance of Brian's case is now all federal judges, when sentencing defendants, are free to sentence according to what they believe the appropriate and reasonable sentence is for each individual and not be tied to the harsh Sentencing Guidelines. This is a landmark case and I am very glad I was able to help a good person like Brian stay out of prison.