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February 22, 2012

Effective review of post-Tapia holdings on sentencing justifications

The Second Circuit late last week issued an effective little ruling in US v. Gilliard, No. 11-1088 (2d Cir. Feb. 17, 2012) (available here), which surveys much of the work of circuit courts in applying the Supreme Court's recent ruling in Tapia, which held district courts could not impose greater imprisonment terms in order to promote a defendant’s rehabilitation.   In Gilliard, the panel rebuffs a defendant's Tapia challenge to his above-guideline sentence, and it provides this effective summary of the state of the doctrine:

A common theme exists between Tapia and those cases in which our sister circuits found error — in all four cases, the sentencing judge explicitly tied the need to impose a sentence of particular length to the defendant’s ability to participate in a drug treatment program.   That connection is missing here.   Rather, the record indicates that Gilliard’s sentence was based on, among other permissible reasons, his extensive criminal history. The district court discussed Gilliard’s rehabilitation only in the context of making its recommendations to the BOP, and in so doing, did no more than what was deemed permissible in Tapia. Accordingly, Gilliard’s claim of procedural unreasonableness fails.

February 22, 2012 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

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