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August 30, 2006

Third Circuit on co-defendant disparity after Booker

The Third Circuit has a nuanced, and somewhat opaque, discussion of co-defendant disparity today in US v. Parker, No. 05-3427 (3d Cir. Aug. 30, 2006) (available here).  Here are some highlights (with lots of cites/quotes/footnotes omitted):

After Booker, district courts must take account of the Guidelines together with other sentencing goals provided in § 3553(a).  We have concluded that Congress's primary goal in enacting § 3553(a)(6) was to promote national uniformity in sentencing rather than uniformity among co-defendants in the same case. Therefore, a defendant cannot rely upon § 3553(a)(6) to seek a reduced sentence designed to lessen disparity between co-defendants' sentences.

Although § 3553(a) does not require district courts to consider sentencing disparity among co-defendants, it also does not prohibit them from doing so.  Section 3553(a) both sets forth numerous factors that guide sentencing and guides appellate courts in determining whether a sentence is unreasonable. So long as factors considered by the sentencing court are not inconsistent with those listed in § 3553(a) and are logically applied to the defendant's circumstances, we afford deference to the court's broad discretion in imposing a sentence within a statutory range.  Where appropriate to the circumstances of a given case, a sentencing court may reasonably consider sentencing disparity of co-defendants in its application of those factors.

August 30, 2006 at 03:42 PM | Permalink

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