Skip to main content

Michael Cohen Sues to Get Time Off of His Sentence Under Trump’s Criminal Justice Reform Law


Lame-duck President Donald Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen claimed in a pair of lawsuits on Monday that the government refused to give him a more than yearlong sentencing break he earned under the First Step Act, signed into law by his former boss.

“The total credit Petitioner is entitled to, when factoring in both his good time and his First Step credits, is three hundred and fifty-nine (359) days,” Cohen wrote in an 11-page habeas petition.

Cohen plans on filing the legal actions in the Southern District of New York, the same court where he received a three-year sentence a little more than two years ago for fraud, perjury and campaign-finance charges spinning off from the Russia investigation.

Some two years into that sentence, Cohen won compassionate release to avoid COVID-19 infection, and he went back to that court to argue successfully that the government wanted to throw him back in jail in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment right to write a tell-all embarrassing the president.

The latest civil actions—a habeas petition and an emergency petition for a writ of mandamus—also alleges unjust treatment from Trump’s Bureau of Prisons, this time in refusing to award him any time under the president’s signature criminal-justice reform law.

“This absurd response by the government is nothing more than a stonewall tactic, sent so the government could ‘check the box’ that they replied to petitioner, without having to do what is required by the statute,” Cohen wrote in his pro se petition.

Cohen says that he earned that time taking classes like “Drug Education: Freedom from Drugs,” “Health/Fitness,” “Victim Impact,” and “Business Start-Up”—and putting 500 hours of work at Water Treatment and the Pipe Shop H.V.A.C.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read Cohen’s mandamus petition here:

(Screengrab of Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony on PBS)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."