Partner Inga Bernstein argued today before the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit about an important issue regarding the Career Offender provision of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines that has divided the federal courts of appeal and is actively being litigated in several circuits. Specifically, she argued that the crime of conspiracy to commit a drug offense does not trigger the Career Offender provision, notwithstanding interpretive commentary from the Sentencing Commission that says otherwise because the language of the Guideline is unambiguous and does not includes such crimes. Rejection of the commentary in this instance is dictated by the Supreme Court’s June decision in Kisor v. Wilkie, which set clear limits on the deference that can be afforded to agencies interpreting their regulations. A decision in this case will have far reaching ramifications for many people impacted by the career offender guideline.
The audio recording of the oral argument can be heard here.