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August 27, 2009

Notable Second Circuit ruling on problems with long-delayed sentencing

The Second Circuit has an intriguing little sentencing ruling today in US v. Ray, No. 08-2795 (2d Cir. Aug. 27, 2009) (available here). Here is how the opinion's official abstract explains the issues covered:

Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Thomas C. Platt, Judge), sentencing defendant, after a fifteen-year delay, to a one-day term of imprisonment and three years of supervised release with a special condition that she serve six months in a halfway house.  Defendant challenges her conviction and sentence on the grounds that she was deprived of her right to a speedy sentencing under the Speedy Trial Clause of the Sixth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.  Alternatively, defendant seeks a remand for resentencing because, in her view, the sentence serves no rehabilitative purpose and is, consequently, unreasonable. We reject defendant’s Sixth Amendment challenge because sentencing and trial are separate and distinct phases of criminal proceedings, and the Speedy Trial Clause applies to trials only, not to sentencing proceedings.  We do, however, see merit in her Fifth Amendment challenge.  The fifteen-year delay in the imposition of sentence on defendant is not justified by any legitimate reason and has caused her prejudice insofar as the custodial portion of it threatens to undermine her successful rehabilitation.  We therefore vacate the portion of her sentence requiring a six-month residence in a halfway house in order to remedy the prejudice caused by the violation of her rights under the Due Process Clause. We do not reach her “unreasonableness” challenge to the sentence.

Affirmed in part, and vacated with respect to the special requirement that defendant reside for six months in a halfway house.

August 27, 2009 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

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Problems With Delayed Sentence - Second Circuit Weighs In: At Sentencing Law and Policy, Doug Berman posts on the Second Circuit's decision in U.S. v. Ray. In Ray, a district judge sentenced Sheena Deloache Ray, after a fifteen-year delay, to... [Read More]

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Comments

Fascinating case. Good slap down of district court judge who erroneously blamed the defense attorney for the 15- year delay in resentencing instead of the government or himself. I thought things got lost only in the state system. I was wrong.

Posted by: Michael R. Levine | Aug 27, 2009 1:14:56 PM

Wow. Based on the excerpt, I was afraid that she'd been sitting in prison for 15 years waiting to get a 1-day sentence.

Still a strange case, but not as bad as I'd feared.

Posted by: anonymous | Aug 27, 2009 2:39:58 PM

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