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November 21, 2011

Ninth Circuit explains rules for 35(b) reductions for substantial assistance

A lengthy opinion from the Ninth Circuit today in US v. Tadio, No. 10-10144 (9th Cir. Nov. 21, 2011) (available here), discusses at great lengthy a technical and important set of issues concerning post-sentencing substantial assistance reductions. Here is how the opinion starts:

Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 35(b) authorizes a district court, on the government’s motion, to reduce a defendant’s sentence “if the defendant, after sentencing, provided substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person.”  The question in this case is whether a district court may consider factors other than a defendant’s substantial assistance in determining the amount of a Rule 35(b) sentence reduction.  

We hold that once a district court determines that a defendant has provided substantial assistance to the government, the court may consider factors other than assistance, including those listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), in order to ensure that the sentence ultimately imposed accords with the purposes of sentencing that Congress has articulated. See § 3553(a)(2).  The sentence imposed must be related to the degree of assistance rendered, but a district court may consider non-assistance factors in awarding a reduction, whether that reduction is greater than, less than, or equal to the reduction that a defendant’s assistance, considered alone, would warrant.

Here, after considering federal prisoner Dennis Tadio’s offense conduct and criminal history, the district court granted a sentence reduction of 24 months, which is what the government had requested based on Tadio’s assistance.  Tadio appeals, contending first that the district court erred by considering non-assistance factors when it decided on the length of the sentence reduction, and second that the district court assigned too low a value to the assistance he provided. The government contends that the district court did not err in considering the non-assistance factors when it decided whether to grant a sentence reduction greater than what Tadio’s assistance, considered alone, warranted. The government also argues that if the district court applied the appropriate legal standard under Rule 35(b), we lack jurisdiction to review the court’s exercise of discretion in choosing the length of the sentence reduction.  We agree with the government and the district court. Because the district court applied the correct legal standard in this case, we affirm its consideration of nonassistance factors and dismiss Tadio’s challenge to the length of the sentence reduction.

November 21, 2011 at 03:00 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Don't look now, but Mr. Tadlo better check himself into PC. Having a PUBLISHED case with your name attached to it, discussing a sentence reduction for cooperation, makes one an immediate target.

Posted by: anon | Nov 21, 2011 6:56:54 PM

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