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October 18, 2008

Sixth Circuit vacates below-guideline sentence for lack of adequate explanation

The Sixth Circuit on Friday in US v. Henry, No. 05-0000 (6th Cir. Oct. 17, 2008) (available here), vacated a below-guideline sentence due to the district court's failure to explain adequately the basis for its sentencing decision.  Here are the highlights from this sentencing ruling:

[T]he district court failed to explain how the § 3553(a) factors specifically applied to Henry’s non-Guidelines sentence or articulate why the sentence constituted an adequate punishment in Henry’s case....

Although the imposition of an appropriate sentence is the province of the district court, appellate courts must have sufficient information about the justifications offered for the sentence imposed in order to conduct a meaningful review.... In sum, there is no means for judges to avoid such disparities in the first instance, or correct them on review, without demanding that substantial variances be supported by substantial reasons.

The sentence in the present case may or may not be reasonable.  We cannot tell because the district court failed to adequately explain its reasoning or to meaningfully articulate why Henry was entitled to the greatly reduced sentence that he received.  We therefore vacate the sentence imposed below and remand the case for resentencing.

October 18, 2008 at 07:33 AM | Permalink


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