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April 3, 2013

For blogging about circuit sentencing opinions, three is a magic number

Schoolhouse_Rock_3_Number_Red_Juniors_POPBecause I have been on the road a lot lately (and will be on the road again starting tomorrow), I have had precious little time to keep up with or blog about notable recent circuit sentencing opinions.  And today I feel extra overwhlemed, in part because potentially blog-worthy opinions have been handed down in the last few days in nearly every federal circuit.  But, as the title of this post and the classic picture is meant to suggest, on this the third day of the month there are three new opinions from all three of the three-magical circuits that merit taking the time for a blog shout-out:

From the Third (3 x 1) Circuit, we get US v. Zabielski, No. 11-3288 (3d Cir. Apr. 3, 2013) (available here), which starts this way:


In United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), the Supreme Court held that the United States Sentencing Guidelines could not constitutionally be applied as diktats.  Rather than scrap the Guidelines entirely, the Court left them intact as advisory and trial judges may vary from them, within reason, after applying the relevant provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).  Before doing so, it is important that trial judges accurately calculate the Guidelines range and correctly rule on departure motions.  Failure to accomplish either of these tasks typically will cause us to vacate and remand for resentencing.  In some cases, however, the procedural error committed by the sentencing court is so insignificant or immaterial that prudence dictates that we hold such error harmless.  Because we view this appeal as one of those cases, we will affirm Appellant Mark Zabielski‘s judgment of sentence.


From the Sixth (3 x 2) Circuit, we get US v. Doyle, No. 12-5516 (6th Cir. Apr. 3, 2013) (available here), which starts this way:

After moving to Tennessee, Rashan Doyle was charged with failure to register as a sex offender, in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 2250(a), to which he pleaded guilty without a plea agreement.  The district court sentenced Doyle to three years and one month in prison followed by ten years of supervised release, upon which the district court imposed four special conditions, numbered three, four, six and eight.  Doyle appeals the district court’s imposition of these four special conditions of supervised release.  Because the district court erred procedurally by failing to explain its reasons for imposing the special conditions, and because the record does not otherwise illuminate the reasons for them, we VACATE the district court’s imposition of the special conditions of supervised release and REMAND for resentencing proceedings consistent with this opinion. 

From the Ninth (3 x 3) Circuit, we get US v. Augustine, No. 12-50061 (9th Cir. Apr. 3, 2013) (available here), which starts this way:

In the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (“FSA”), Pub. L. No. 111–220, 124 Stat. 2372, Congress addressed the inequitable disparity between the sentences prescribed for crack and powder cocaine offenses. The question in this case is whether a defendant sentenced for a crack cocaine offense before the FSA was enacted is eligible for a reduced sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2).  We hold, consistent with all circuits to have addressed the issue, that the FSA’s lowered mandatory minimums are not available to such individuals.


April 3, 2013 at 06:51 PM | Permalink


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How about this opinion from the Tenth (3x3)+(3x.33) Circuit on restitution and double jeopardy in child pornography cases:

Posted by: DEJ | Apr 3, 2013 11:40:06 PM

Nice effort, DEJ, to keep the theme while linking to the latest circuit DP ruling!

Posted by: Doug B. | Apr 4, 2013 10:05:35 AM

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