September 19, 2008
Patrick Lett's case (and a few other notable sentencing cases) among "Petitions to Watch"
I am very pleased to see that the remarkable legal story of (my client) Patrick Lett has earned his case a place over here at SCOTUSblog on the list of cert petitions that SCOTUS guru Tom Goldstein "has deemed to have a reasonable chance of being granted." Here is the start of the discussion at SCOTUSblog, as well as some of the sentencing cases of note that appear on the list:
Issues raised in our current list include district courts’ ability to amend incorrect sentences, the constitutionality of appointments to a patent appeals board, the validity of the “automatic companion” rule under the Fourth Amendment, the statute of limitations in securities fraud claims, whether state criminal convictions require jury unanimity, and many (many, many) others....
Case name: Lett v. United States
Issue: Whether, under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, a district judge may amend a prior criminal sentence mistakenly based on a misunderstanding of federal sentencing factors....
Case name: Lewis v. United States
Issue: Whether, if a defendant violates the terms of supervised release, a district court may base the new sentence upon factors stated in 18 U.S.C. 3553(a)(2)(A)....
Case name: Martinez-Guerrero v. United States
Issue: Whether a district court may direct a defendant to serve a federal sentence consecutively to a not-yet-imposed state sentence....
Case name: Vonner v. United States
Issue: Whether criminal defendants must object at the time a sentence is imposed in order to challenge the sentence as either procedurally or substantively unreasonable under United States v. Booker (2005)....
Case name: Lucero v. Texas
Issue: Whether, under the Sixth Amendment, a jury foreman may read Bible passages during deliberations to persuade holdout jurors to impose the death penalty.
This SCOTUSblog post listing all these and many other cert-worthy cases includes helpful links to the decisions below and to the briefs filed in support of cert in each case. And here is a review of some prior related posts I have done on the Lett case:
September 19, 2008 at 02:30 PM | Permalink
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The case that would have the most actual impact on the day-to-day realities of sentencing is Vonner, the case that deals with when and how a defendant must object below to preserve procedural and substantive reasonabless challeges for appeal. Lots of sentences have been affirmed because the defendant couldn't meet the plain error standard. Almost every circuit has different rules for error preservation post-Booker. Some circuit's rules make sense. Some don't. It would be nice to get some clarity.
Posted by: Vonner | Sep 19, 2008 4:39:04 PM
Vonner is bad law but I think it makes a poor vehicle for deciding this question. As Judge Martin points out, this case was decided only three weeks after Booker so regardless of whether he should or should not have objected at trial, "subjecting Vonner to plain error review for his failure to make an objection that he could not have known he needed to make is inconsistent with the most basic principles of fairness and due process." The majority's little tap dance around this problem is not persuasive in the least. In order to even reach the issue of when an objection needs to be raised, the Supreme Court would also need to get around this issue first and I think that is unlikely.
Posted by: Daniel | Sep 19, 2008 10:58:29 PM
The Martinez-Guerrero case raises some interesting federalism issues, but will almost certainly be denied cert. (for mootness, if nothing else).
Posted by: | Sep 20, 2008 1:15:33 PM