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May 25, 2012

Intriguing procedural sentencing reversal in Ninth Circuit

The Ninth Circuit has a bunch of criminal justice rulings today, and I found especially interesting the quirky procedural issue that lead to a reversal in US v. Harris, No. No. 11-10053 (9th Cir. May 25, 2012) (available here).  Here is how the opinion starts:

William Harris appeals his sentence of 188 months following his conviction of three counts of assaulting a federal correctional officer.  The sentence was imposed by a judge other than the trial judge, whose unavailability for sentencing was unexplained.  A judge visiting the District of Arizona imposed the sentence with insufficient familiarity with the case.   Because of that unfamiliarity and the unjustified replacement of the trial judge, the sentencing violated Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 25(b) with prejudice.  We vacate the sentence and remand for sentencing by the trial judge.

May 25, 2012 at 04:20 PM | Permalink


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Two cases in one day on this blog where a sentence imposed by Linda Reade is highlighted.

Posted by: Anon | May 25, 2012 4:46:18 PM

Great quote from the opinion: "Sentencing is an art, not to be performed as a mechanical process but as a sensitive response to a particular person who has a particular personal history and has committed a particular crime."

Posted by: Ron | May 25, 2012 4:50:08 PM

What's really sad is they had to appeal this. Should have never happened in the first place! Anyone involved should be removed from office for criminal stupidity!

Posted by: rodsmith | May 25, 2012 10:54:35 PM


I can't help but wonder if Doug doesn't have something against this judge. So far, I haven't seen anything terrible from her. Yes, she shouldn't have presided over this case but I do think the situation that frames this appeal is quite extraordinary (it's not every day Judges and Congresswomen get shot). Seems to me she was just trying to do a good deed.

The real problem here isn't the judge but as the opinion itself highlights the standard MO in AZ. Regardless of who the judge is this type of thing should not be the ordinary practice, which it apparently is.

Posted by: Daniel | May 25, 2012 11:43:23 PM

Gracias. A smile and thanks. A kiss. A hug.

Posted by: Adult High School Diploma | May 29, 2012 6:23:43 AM

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