November 4 Thursday

Debevoise's Holloway Project and "Second Looks" in Federal Sentencing

  • Thursday, November 4, 2021 at 4:10PM - 6:00PM
  • SLB Room 120
  • Open To The YLS Community Only
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The Holloway Project at Debevoise & Plimpton has advocated for federal prisoners, overwhelmingly men of color, who were given bone-crushing sentences pursuant to the cruelest mandatory sentencing law the federal system had to offer: the 25-year mandatory and consecutive sentence for “second or successive” firearm convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The typical Holloway Project client is a middle-aged man who was sentenced decades ago for robbery sprees in which a firearm was used but no one was hurt and little was stolen. In almost all of their cases, indefensible sentences – often as not the equivalent of life without parole – had nothing to do with their culpability and everything to do with their refusals to plead guilty.
Established for the specific purpose of rectifying the miscarriages of justice inflicted disproportionately on Black men in the form of these so-called “stacked” § 924(c) sentences, the Holloway Project has so far obtained sentence reductions for 30 men. The average reduction is 34 years; the project has shaved a total of 1,025 years off the sentences of its clients. Many more motions have been and will be filed; as of today more than 70 Debevoise lawyers have represented the clients of the project. The project has litigated cases in district courts throughout the country and in most of the federal circuits, and has a cert petition currently pending in the Supreme Court and more will follow soon.
In addition to returning its clients to families who love them and communities that need them, the project has helped reveal that one of the holy grails of sentencing reformers over the past three decades--a judicial “second look” at the excessively severe sentences the previous reform movement ushered into our federal systems — has been there all along. The project has helped to place its potential and importance in the sharpest possible relief, and has shown that federal judges are hungry to act as a check on imprudent uses of prosecutorial discretion that have characterized the federal system during the past several decades.
Come join Visiting Lecturer in Law, Debevoise Partner, former U.S. District Judge, and founder of the Holloway Project—John Gleeson—for a presentation about the project in Mr. Gleeson’s Sentencing seminar. He will be joined by Marisa Taney and Kevin Haynes. Ms. Taney, a Debevoise associate, manages the project; Mr. Haynes, a client of the project, served 27 years of a 46 and one-half year sentence before his release was obtained last year. Mr. Haynes will discuss what it was like to be on the receiving end of a fundamentally unjust sentence, how he adapted to serving it, and the challenges he now faces as a formerly incarcerated person.