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November 1, 2005

Jamie Olis sentence overturned by the 5th Circuit!

More than eight months after oral argument, the Fifth Circuit late on Monday finally resolved the appeal of Jamie Olis, who received a severe 24-year sentence for his role in the Dynegy fraud and whose case has been watched closely by me (see here and here) and many others.  In an opinion by (SCOTUS bridesmaid?) Judge Edith Jones, the Fifth Circuit in US v. Olis, No. 04-20322 (5th Cir. Oct. 31, 2005) (available here) affirmed Olis' conviction, but reversed his sentence.

The decision in Olis is quite interesting because Judge Jones first declares that Olis had preserved his constitutional claims and that the government could not show that Booker errors were harmless.  At this point, the Olis court could have simply remanded for resentencing under Booker.  However, the court instead chose to "review the specific sentencing issues that have arisen in this case and provide an analytical framework to aid the district court in resentencing."

The Olis court then engages in a thorough discussion of loss calculations (which dictated Olis' long sentence in the district court) to reach the conclusion that "the district court, faced with a 'cook the books' fraud, overemphasized his discretion as factfinder at the expense of economic analysis."  The Fifth Circuit thereafter suggests that "attributing to Olis the entire stock market decline suffered by one large or multiple small shareholders of Dynegy would greatly overstate his personal criminal culpability."

Though overturning the district court's loss calculation, the Olis court affirms other guideline determinations made at the initial (pre-Booker) sentencing, and it does not speak to how this case should now be examined in a post-Booker world.  The decision concludes simply by stating Olis "must be resentenced in accordance with Booker's overall standard of reasonableness after the court 'considers' the guidelines including a recalculation of the amount of loss for which Olis should be held responsible."

In light of new Booker realities and the tough sentences we have seen in some white-collar cases, this will be a very interesting case to watch at resentencing.  I will be intrigued to see what kind of sentence the government and defense counsel recommend, and what sentence the district judge ultimately imposes.

November 1, 2005 at 12:42 AM | Permalink

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Tracked on Nov 1, 2005 9:10:31 AM

» Jamie Olis' sentence reversed from Ideoblog
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Tracked on Nov 1, 2005 1:33:13 PM

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