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May 5, 2006

Judge Presnell on fast-track disparity (again)

The always notable District Judge Gregory Presnell, who long-ago secured a place in my Sentencing Hall of Fame, has spoken through again to fast-track disparity in US v. Miranda-Garcia, No. 05-cr-202 (M.D. Fla. May 4, 2006) (available for download below).  Judge Presnell's previous work in this area in a case called Delgado is discussed in this post.  Here is a portion of his latest work in Miranda-Garcia (though the whole opinion is a must-read):

[T]he existence of fast-track programs in some but not all areas of the country creates a situation where defendants guilty of identical offenses and with identical histories and characteristics receive significantly different sentences depending upon whether they are sentenced in a fast-track jurisdiction or not.  18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(6) specifically instructs the Court to "avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct." Many judges dealing with this issue post-Booker (including other judges in this district) have concluded that the fast-track disparity is unwarranted.  As one such judge put it, "it is difficult to imagine a sentencing disparity less warranted than one which depends upon the accident of the judicial district in which the defendant happens to be arrested." United States v. Bonnet-Grullon, 53 F.Supp.2d 430, 435 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).  This Court agrees. 

The consequences of this disparity are not simply academic or de minimis.  According to a recent report from the USSC, the 13 districts with fast-track programs for illegal reentry cases 5 include several with far fewer immigration cases than the Middle District of Florida (e.g., Idaho, Nebraska and North Dakota).  Booker Report at E-25.  As of March 16, 2006, 28 percent of all post-Booker illegal reentry defendants nationwide received government-sponsored fast-track credit (and a corresponding below-guideline sentence).  United States Sentencing Commission, Special Post-Booker Coding Project (March 2006) at 2.  Obviously, there were no fast-track departures in this District. This is a huge disparity based solely on the happenstance of a defendant’s location at the time of his or her arrest.

Download presnell_sentencing_opinion_us_v. Miranda-Garcia.pdf

May 5, 2006 at 01:30 PM | Permalink

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