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November 3, 2006

The facts and decisions in Claiborne and Rita

Among the interesting aspects of the cert grants in Claiborne and Rita are the underlying facts and circuit court rulings.  Though I do not know all the details, Lyle Denniston has these basics here:

The Claiborne case is from the Eighth Circuit. [Decision here.] Mario Claiborne of St. Louis was convicted of distributing cocaine base and possession of more than five grams of the illegal substance. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison.  The guideline range was 37 to 46 months. The Circuit Court ruled that a sentence within that range was presumed to be reasonable so it ordered new sentencing. It did say that a sentence outside the range could be found reasonable if the judge found "extraordinary circumstances" to exist.

Rita is from the Fourth Circuit.  [Decision here.] It involved a North Carolina man, Victor A. Rita, who was convicted of giving false testimony to a grand jury and obstructing justice in an investigation of illegal trafficking in machine gun kits. After his conviction on five counts, he was sentenced to 33 months on all counts -- within the guideline range.  The Fourth Circuit upheld that as reasonable, because it was within the range for his case.

Among the universe of federal crimes, both Claiborne and Rita appear to involve relatively minor offenses and, I would suspect, both defendants are first-offenders.  And, the crack context of Claiborne adds a lot of possible pro-defendant issues into the mix.  Moreover, I believe defendant Rita's offenses are for the same essential charges now facing Lewis "Scooter" Libby.  Hmmm....

November 3, 2006 at 05:30 PM | Permalink

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Crowd begins chanting:

We want the petitions!
We want the petitions!
We want the petitions!

Crowd is getting louder, some people become unruly:

We want the petitions!
We want the petitions!
Link to the petitions!
Link to the petitions!

Crowd now on the verge of riot, torches coming out, some members visibly frothing at the mouth, their appellate nerd brief cases flailing wildly:

Petitions! Petitions! Link! Link! Petitions! Petitions! Link! Link!

Posted by: RW | Nov 3, 2006 6:10:13 PM

From the text of the order, it appears that the petitions were probably pro se. As such, they probably look something like this

http://www.abovethelaw.com/images/entries/notice%20of%20appeal.jpeg

The court has probably just watched the issue percolate. Now that almost all of the circuits have weighed in, see p. 5 of this file http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/06a0183p-06.pdf the court was probably just looking for a case to pick off.

So, if you're looking for "the genius argument that finally convinced the court to take the issue," I doubt you'll see it in the petitions.

Posted by: WB | Nov 3, 2006 7:02:46 PM

Both petitions were filed by Assistant Federal Public Defenders. Neither was pro se. Copies should be available to Doug to post by Monday, from one of his excellent sources.

Posted by: Peter G | Nov 3, 2006 10:03:51 PM

My mistake

Posted by: WB | Nov 4, 2006 12:37:02 AM

Both Claiborne and Rita are perfunctory -- one might even say HIGHLY perfunctory -- opinions from the Courts of Appeals. Of all the Booker reasonableness cert. petitions, why grant these two?

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Nov 4, 2006 8:04:12 AM

Maybe the absence of meaningful reasoning is precisely the target of the court...

Posted by: RW | Nov 4, 2006 6:25:47 PM

Ya know, WB, the wrong public defender might take that the wrong way... :)

Posted by: RW | Nov 4, 2006 7:11:05 PM

i just heard what happen on the radio. to take ten years of that babys life and i do mean baby . is wrong he and she were all for the evening. it was not rape .we need appeal .

Posted by: valencia | Jan 29, 2007 4:17:33 PM

medical field /cna

Posted by: valencia | Jan 29, 2007 4:21:00 PM

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