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September 27, 2005

A notable pair from the 11th Circuit

Perhaps because all the circuit judges are distracted by the clerkship mania, we have not had many significant circuit rulings of late.  But, adding some excitement to our Booker world, the Eleventh Circuit decided a pair of notable sentencing cases today: US v. Chau, No. 05-10640 (11th Cir. Sept. 27, 2005) (available here) and US v. Scott, No. 05-11843 (11th Cir. Sept. 27, 2005) (available here).

In Chau, the Eleventh Circuit discusses at length the possible application of Crawford at sentencing, noting that Crawford "may eventually be extended to the sentencing context, [but] that has not happened yet" and that "other circuit courts to consider this question have unanimously concluded that Crawford does not alter the pre-Crawford law that the admission of hearsay testimony at sentencing does not violate confrontation rights."  The Eleventh Circuit also reiterated that Booker permits judicial factfinding to enhance sentences within an advisory guideline regime.

In Scott, the Eleventh Circuit rejects a claim that a sentence at the bottom of the guideline range is unreasonable.  The Scott ruling is focused on the particular (unpleasant) facts at hand, but the Eleventh Circuit does speak more broadly at times about reasonableness review:

We now similarly and squarely hold that nothing in Booker or elsewhere requires the district court to state on the record that it has explicitly considered each of the § 3553(a) factors or to discuss each of the § 3553(a) factors....

Scott argues that the district court failed to place sufficient weight on his personal characteristics and history.... While the district court was particularly impressed by the seriousness of the offenses and the extremely young age of the intended victim, the sentence imposed also reflects the evidence presented by Scott in mitigation.  Scott's 135-month sentence was at the low end of the Guidelines range, a range that takes into account Scott's offense conduct, his personal characteristics and history, just punishment, and adequate deterrence.[FN 5] Nothing in the record convinces us the sentence was unreasonable in light of the § 3553(a) factors. We are satisfied under the circumstances of this case the sentence was reasonable.

[FN 5] ... Since its creation, the Sentencing Commission has adopted, modified, and honed the Guidelines to take account the factors in § 3553(a).

September 27, 2005 at 05:20 PM | Permalink

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