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September 28, 2005

Seventh Circuit publishes crack/powder decision

Though decided weeks ago, the Seventh Circuit today decided to "publish" its ruling in US v. Gipson, No. 05-1407 (7th Cir. Aug. 10, 2005), published (Sept. 28, 2005) (accessible here), which rejects the claim that "a sentence based upon the guidelines is unreasonable because the guidelines punish crack cocaine offenses too severely relative to offenses involving powder cocaine."  In an appropriately nuanced ruling, the Seventh Circuit in Gipson explains (cites omitted):

The question in the present case ... is not whether after Booker a sentencing court may use the differential as a reason to impose a shorter sentence than the one recommended by the guidelines, but rather whether it is error for a court not to have taken the differential into account.  Given the fact that we have routinely upheld the differential against constitutional attack, including equal protection claims, and, under the pre-Booker guideline system, rejected wholesale downward departures from the guideline on this basis, it would be inconsistent to require the district court to give a nonguideline sentence based on the differential.

To my knowledge, Gipson is the first published ruling on the crack issue, and I may have more to say about this outcome (and what it means for reasonableness review) in a future post.  In the meantime, I have linked below some posts covering some notable district court work in this area:

September 28, 2005 at 02:39 PM | Permalink

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Comments

After taking the lead with their opinion in U.S. v. Booker (7th Cir.), I have to say I am very disappointed with the 7th Cir. for thier post-U.S. v. Booker (U.S.) opinions. For the most part, nothing has changed, and that is sad.

Posted by: Eric | Sep 29, 2005 1:09:30 PM

I largely agree, Eric. Especially in the wake of the 7th's Booker ruling, I would have expected (and hoped) for more from the 7th in this post-Booker world.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 1, 2005 8:55:33 AM

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