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August 30, 2005

On departure review and reasonableness from the 11th Circuit

The Eleventh Circuit today in US v. Winingear, No. 05-11198 (11th Cir. Aug. 30, 2005) (available here), had an opportunity to speak to the review of departure requests and the reasonableness standard.  Here are some snippets:

We do not apply the reasonableness standard to each individual decision made during the sentencing process; rather, we review the final sentence for reasonableness.... After Booker, our review of decisions regarding downward departures remains limited.... Although the Supreme Court in Booker excised section 3742(e), it left section 3742(a) intact ... and, therefore, we lack jurisdiction to review the decision of the district court not to apply a downward departure....

The government urges us to hold that sentences within the Guideline range are per se reasonable, but we need not address whether or how much deference is owed sentences within the applicable Guideline range to determine that Winingear's sentence was reasonable. The district court imposed a sentence one-tenth the length of the twenty-year statutory maximum sentence for mail fraud that does not affect a financial institution. 18 U.S.C. ยง 1341. Winingear defrauded 21 people of a total of $19,600, had multiple previous convictions, committed this crime while still under sentence for a previous crime, violated his bond, and threatened to murder arresting officers as he fled from them. The district court took care that its sentence provided Winingear with needed medical care. In the light of the factors outlined in section 3553(a), the sentence of the district court was reasonable.

August 30, 2005 at 05:48 PM | Permalink


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