Champion Firm Attorney Eric Funt recently assisted a pro bono client in reducing a lengthy prison sentence, resulting in an immediate release. Working on a team with attorneys from a top New York City law firm, Attorney Eric Funt represented a pro bono client sentenced in 2005 to over 40 years in prison for a carjacking and robbery committed when the client was only 20 years old. Over half the client’s prison term was based on an enhanced, 25-year mandatory consecutive sentence the Court was required (at that time) to impose under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). For years, this federal firearms law resulted in brutally excessive enhanced prison sentences deployed disproportionately against Black men like our client.
In 2018, Congress enacted the First Step Act, which outlawed the kind of sentence our client received. However, the change in law was not retroactive, only applying to future offenders. Significantly, the First Step Act also changed compassionate release. The Bureau of Prisons had always been allowed to seek compassionate release on behalf of inmates, but it rarely ever did. The 2018 changes to the law allowed inmates to seek relief directly in court after being rejected by prison officials.
In July 2020, the legal team moved for compassionate release based on “extraordinary and compelling” circumstances. They focused on the client’s indefensibly harsh mandatory sentence and the fact that, if sentenced today on identical facts and charges, he would face a dramatically shorter term of imprisonment. In addition to this disparity, the team also presented compelling mitigating details about the circumstances surrounding the client’s offenses, the aberrant nature of his behavior giving rise to his convictions, his rehabilitation and good conduct in prison, and the supportive community eagerly awaiting his release.
In a recent thirty-page Order, the federal district court in Atlanta accepted virtually all our arguments and granted the motion for compassionate release, reducing our client’s sentence to time-served. We celebrate the victory that our client is now at home with his family.
A graduate of The George Washington University, Eric went on to pursue his Juris Doctorate from The George Washington University Law School where he was a member of the International Law Review. During law school, he also participated in the Public Justice Advocacy Clinic, where law students represented individuals treated unfairly and illegally in employment matters. As a third-year law student Eric tried a case before a D.C. Superior Court judge and obtained a great verdict for four clients who had been cheated out of overtime by their employer.
After two additional internships with Federal Judges and completing law school, Eric developed his career as a successful litigation associate at a top international law firm where he focused on complex commercial lawsuits involving claims of fraud, breach of fiduciary and theft of trade secrets. Eric’s legal strategies have heavy emphasis on researching and drafting motions and responses involving novel and multifaceted legal and factual issues. Being creative and innovative is vital in getting clients the best possible result.
Crediting much of his success to work experiences under exceptional Judges and Attorneys, Eric also spent two years clerking for a federal judge where he gained invaluable insight into the deliberation process and what motivates judges to rule one way verses another. He assisted the Judge in over 500 cases and during more than 15 cases that went to trial.
Eric then decided he wanted to represent individuals instead of corporations and transitioned to Personal Injury Law where he now practices with The Champion Firm.
The Champion Firm is a full-service personal injury law firm serving the greater Metro Atlanta area. Our award-winning team of attorneys specializes in car accidents, wrongful death, premises liability, and slip-and-fall cases. Learn more about our team here.