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January 23, 2006

Interesting Ninth Circuit opinion on "crime of violence"

A decision from the Ninth Circuit today in US v. Serna, No. 04-10597 (9th Cir. Jan. 23, 2006) (available here), provides another interesting window into the bizarro world of the federal sentencing guidelines.  I have previously noted how a "crime of violence" is interpreted under the guidelines can often be very important and very curious: crimes such as operating a vehicle without the owner's consent and fleeing a police officer can qualify as a "crime of violence" leading to large sentence increases.  But, through the Ninth Circuit's decision in Serna, we learn today that illegal possession of an assault weapon does not qualify as a "crime of violence" under the guidelines.

I had long ago hoped that Booker might lead to a shrinking of the importance of the curiouser and curiouser jurisprudence surrounding "crimes of violence."  Sadly, since the guidelines' diktats have remained the focal point of federal sentencing, it appears that Booker has not yet brought us out of this federal sentencing rabbit hole.

January 23, 2006 at 01:00 PM | Permalink


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