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November 1, 2005

A reasonableness-free ruling from the 11th Circuit

In a detailed ruling that covers a number of issues, the Eleventh Circuit today in US v. Moriarity, No. 04-13683 (11th Cir. Nov. 1, 2005) (available here), affirms in substance (but remands for some clarifications) a sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a lifetime of supervised release.  The interesting aspects of Moriarity include (a) the court's conclusion that the government met its burden of proving preserved Booker error to be harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, and (b) the court's rejection of the claim that "the district court's imposition of a lifelong term of supervised release constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment."

An interesting dog not barking in Moriarity is reasonableness, which is of course the purposed standard of review for sentences after Booker.  Given the limited reach of the Eighth Amendment in non-capital cases under current SCOTUS doctrine, I was not at all surprised with the 11th Circuit's rejection of the claim that the imposition of a lifelong term of supervised release constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.  But I was surprised that the opinion in Moriarity does not discuss or even mention whether the appealed sentence was reasonable under Booker.

November 1, 2005 at 05:35 PM | Permalink

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