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May 16, 2006

Ninth Circuit emphasizes importance of 3553(a)

Today in US v. Diaz-Argueta, No. 05-10224 (9th Cir. May 16, 2006) (available here), the Ninth Circuit discussed the importance of the 3553(a) factors in the post-Booker sentencing process.  Here are key excerpts from Diaz-Argueta:

In this case, the district court started out properly by calculating on the record the applicable Guideline range.  The district court then stated that it had "carefully considered the Presentence Report and the comments of counsel, and the memorandum filed on behalf of the defendant." The district court, however, did not explicitly address any of the factors listed in § 3553(a), other than the Guidelines.  In fact, other than using the Guidelines, the court did not give any reason for its sentence.

Section 3553(a) is mandatory.  Its terms are not met by reciting a number taken from a table of the Sentencing Guidelines that are now merely advisory.  There is no presumption that such a number has taken into account all of the relevant circumstances that the statute states that the court shall consider....

Sentencing is a difficult art. It is easy to make it mechanical. It is impossible to make it scientific in the sense of an hypothesis validated or invalidated by experiment.  It is, however, an act of reason as the judge looking at this particular person and the circumstances of the crime that this particular person has committed makes a judgment following the prescriptions of the statute. This act remains to be done.

May 16, 2006 at 11:43 PM | Permalink

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