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August 15, 2006

Still more reasonableness fun from the Sixth Circuit

The Sixth Circuit, as noted here, was providing daily drama on Booker plain error last year.  Now we have move on to reasonableness review, and the circuit continues its latest soap opera with a split opinion today in US v. Cage, No. 05-5241 (6th Cir. Aug 15, 2006) (available here). 

The majority opinion in Cage affirms a within-guideline sentence over the defendant's appeal, which claimed err in the district court's assertion that there ought to be a presumption in favor of the guidelines even after Booker.  Along the way, the Cage opinion explains and defends the Sixth Circuit's prior decision to "credit the Guidelines with a rebuttable presumption of reasonableness," 

Judge Clay, in an equally thoughtful opinion, dissents with this initial explanation of his concerns:

The majority's holding in this case directly contravenes Booker, 18 U.S.C. §3 553(a), and this Court's prior holdings that district courts are to consider all the § 3553(a) factors in arriving at a sentence sufficient to, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).

Just some of the recent engaging reasonableness work by the Sixth Circuit:

UPDATE:  I was so drawn to the split opinion in Cage, I missed the Sixth Circuit additional work on reasonableness today in US v. Davis, No. 05-6259 (6th Cir. Aug 15, 2006) (available here).  Here is the introduction to the Sixth Circuit's thoughtful work in Davis:

Lonnie Davis appeals his sentence for escaping from a community corrections center in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 751(a).  Davis asserts that the district court erred by applying a reasonableness standard in determining his sentence rather than "impos[ing] a sentence sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the purposes set forth in [18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)]" as prescribed by 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).  Davis also argues that in imposing his thirty-seven-month sentence, the lowest within the recommended U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range, the district court did not adequately consider "the nature and circumstances of the offense" — namely, its nonviolent character — under § 3553(a)(1). Because no specific magic words are necessary to render a sentence reasonable, and the district court imposed a reasonable sentence after thorough consideration of the § 3553(a) factors as required following United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), we AFFIRM Davis's sentence.

August 15, 2006 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

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