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March 9, 2007

A Sixth Circuit bridge over troubled Booker waters

The Sixth Circuit's decision in US v. Bridgewater, No. 05-6950 (6th Cir. Mar. 9, 2007) (available here), effectively covers a lot post-Booker sentencing ground in the course of affirming a sentence while also poking both the sentencing court and the especially appealing federal defender.  Here are a few choice snippets about reasonableness review:

District courts ... should consider laying out how their sentencing reasoning connects to or serves the purposes of at least the § 3553 requirements that it considers salient in that case.  Not all are important in every sentencing; often one or two prevail, while others pale.  Our job on review can be indeed eased with some explanation directed at the factors listed in § 3553....  A full review of the record, as detailed above, reveals that the district court indeed considered the relevant factors in reaching a sentence that was sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to "comply with the [sentencing] purposes set forth" in § 3553....

Proper sentencing requires reasonable sentences, not simply the invocation of "magic words" by the sentencing court....  The record instead indicates that the district court's imposition of a lengthy sentence with lifetime supervised release was reasoned and properly founded. 

In short, our application of Booker and the sentencing factors of § 3553 holds to the principle that the perfect should not be the enemy of the good.  In reviewing challenges to the reasonableness of a sentence, we seek a sufficient decisional approach by the sentencing court, not necessarily the most ideal, or a "model" approach. Bridgewater received sufficient consideration of the appropriate sentencing factors and, consequently, a reasonable sentence was imposed.

March 9, 2007 at 10:33 AM | Permalink


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Surprised to see any poignant policy analysis by the circuits as it pertains to the district judge's role in a 3553 context when we stand on the eve of Claiborne and Rita.

Posted by: SPD | Mar 9, 2007 11:02:37 AM

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