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November 6, 2006

The district court sentencing in Claiborne and cert briefing

A terrific reader sent me an electronic copy of the district court sentencing transcript in Claiborne, the case in which the Supreme Court will examine whether a below-guideline sentence is reasonable (basics here and here and here).  I have provided that transcript for downloading below, and it is a fascinating read.

As the transcript details, Mario Claiborne was given a 15-month sentence for two relatively minor crack offenses.  Especially because it appears that Claiborne was a non-violent first offender, one can readily assert that his sentence is clearly reasonable for his offenses.  And yet, in part because of how harshly the guidelines treat crack quantities, Claiborne's guideline range was 37-46 months' imprisonment.  Especially because there does not appear to be anything special about Claiborne, one could also readily assert (as did the Eighth Circuit) that nothing extraordinary about this case clearly justified a sizable deviation from the guideline range.

In the transcript, Claiborne's attorney indicates that his guideline range would have been only 6-12 months' imprisonment if his offense had involved powder cocaine.  So Claiborne was still given a sentence harsher than what the guidelines would have advised for a powder offense, but less harsh than what the guidelines advised for a crack offense.

Download claiborne_transcript.pdf

I am still trying to get my hands on a copy of the the district court sentencing transcript in Rita, the case in which the Supreme Court will examine the reasonableness of a within-guideline sentence.  In addition, I am also still seeking electronic copies of the cert petitions in both cases.

UPDATE: Another helpful reader has sent along the cert briefing in Claiborne, which I set forth below:

Download claiborne_cert.pdf

Download claiborne_bio.pdf

Download claiborne_reply_brief.rtf

November 6, 2006 at 03:45 PM | Permalink

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