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May 13, 2005

Report of a Judge Cassell departure for family circumstances

I am now wondering if there was some sort of anti-guideline karma in the air yesterday (which happened to be the four-month anniversary of Booker).  As detailed in this post, yesterday District Judge Richard Kopf, one of the most vocal (and engaging) post-Booker defenders of within-guideline sentences, departed down from the guideline range on the basis of compelling family circumstances.  And now I see from this news story that yesterday District Judge Paul Cassell, another vocal (and engaging) post-Booker defender of within-guideline sentences, also granted a downward departure on the basis of family circumstances when sentencing Raul Enrique Perez-Chavez.

I have not yet found a written opinion in Perez-Chavez, but the newspaper account of the sentencing indicates not only that Judge Cassell departed on the basis of family circumstances, but also that he "was troubled that some defendants in Utah receive longer sentences than those charged with identical crimes in states with the fast-track program, which is unavailable in Utah."  (This sort of concern, one may recall, led Wisconsin District Judge Adelman in Galvez-Barrios (details here) to grant a Booker variance.)  Here are highlights from the story about the sentencing of Perez-Chavez:

Judge Paul Cassell meted out an eight-month sentence — less than half of the minimum term recommended under federal sentencing guidelines — because Perez-Chavez re-entered the United States to help his wife, who had just given birth after a high-risk pregnancy and who was caring for her terminally ill grandfather.... Despite [expressing] concerns [about fast-track disparity], Cassell denied Perez-Chavez's request for a fast-track reduction.

UPDATE: I now have on good authority that we are likely to see a written opinion in Perez-Chavez will early next week.  Considering all his fascinating post-Booker work to date, I am looking forward to seeing what Judge Cassell has to say on all these issues.

May 13, 2005 at 03:02 PM | Permalink

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