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March 10, 2006

Follow-up on First Circuit's work in Jiménez-Beltre

Though I am now fixated on Booker fix buzz because of the big hearings next week in the House and USSC (details here and here), the notable work on post-Booker sentencing by the First Circuit in Jiménez-Beltre (basics here) merits some additional attention and praise.

First and foremost, I believe Jiménez-Beltre is the first circuit opinion to endorse the notion that the guidelines should be given "substantial weight" in post-Booker sentencing.  But, of course, the doctrines and patterns of reasonableness review in all the circuit have made it pretty clear that most circuits have at least implicitly endorsed this concept.

Second, the First Circuit should be praised for its relatively quick and effective en banc work.  Argument in Jiménez-Beltre was only a month ago, and the court was able to produce a ruling with four quite thoughtful opinions in short order.  I wish other circuits had the good sense to take up major post-Booker issues en banc: these matters impact thousands of sentencings and hundreds of appeals in nearly every circuit and they clearly merit the collective deliberation and input that en banc proceedings foster.

Third, though I am personally impressed most by the separate opinions of Judges Lipez and Torruella, there is something for everyone in Jiménez-Beltre.  I suspect Judge Howard's concurrence (which really is a dissent in its reasoning) will get cited in many government briefs, and prosecutors and defense attorneys in the First Circuit will surely emphasize different aspects of Judge Boudin's majority opinion.  Discussing Jiménez-Beltre at length here at the PRACDL blog, Tom Lincoln captures the decision's mixed message:

While Jiménez-Beltre does leave some flexibility to the defense, it is far from what most defense counsel who have followed Booker developments would have desired. If you ask me whether it could have been worse, the answer is yes, of course.

March 10, 2006 at 04:05 AM | Permalink


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US v. Jiménez-Beltre, No. 05-1268 (en banc). The First is back with this en banc opinion. The court holds that: 1) a within guidelines sentence is reviewable (and the government’s statutory argument was hopeless based on the First’s analysis of [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 10, 2006 7:11:29 AM


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