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March 8, 2006

Fifth Circuit affirms long above-guideline sentence

Continuing the pattern detailed in this post, the Fifth Circuit late yesterday in US v. Reinhart, No. 05-30245 (5th Cir. Mar. 7, 2006) (available here), found reasonable a "non-guidelines" sentence of 235 months when the applicable guideline range was 121-151 months.  The case has a long procedural history (and apparently ugly facts) that make the result not all that surprising.  However, Reinhart is still important because of the Fifth Circuit's discussion of post-Booker sentencing and appellate review.  Here are a few highlights:

Departure from the guidelines range, however, cannot alone support a finding of unreasonableness after Booker, in which the Court has indicated that the guidelines are merely one sentencing factor among many, and the calculated guideline range must be considered in conjunction with the other ยง 3553(a) factors.  See Booker, 543 U.S. at 245-46.  We therefore decline to give the guidelines the quasi-mandatory status urged by Reinhart.

Applying an abuse of discretion standard of review, we defer to the district court's reasonable assessment of the statutory factors, with particular emphasis on the nature and circumstances of the offense and Reinhart's history and characteristics.  We will not require a district court to conform a sentence to the guideline range where that court has made a reasonable determination, based on a variety of other equally legitimate factors, that a non-guideline sentence is proper.

Reinhart provides yet another example, along with the cases detailed in this post, of an above-guideline sentence being subject to relatively deferential review.   Meanwhile, below-guideline sentences continue to be subject to far greater scrutiny.

March 8, 2006 at 01:12 PM | Permalink

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