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April 7, 2005

2d Circuit finds (extreme) sentence unreasonable

Wednesday was a big day for discussions of reasonableness in the circuit courts, with the Sixth Circuit opining at length in Webb (discussed here) and the Eighth Circuit taking a cursory approach in Thompson (discussed here).  And the Second Circuit, in an unpublished opinion, got in on the reasonableness fun by declaring (I believe for the first time) a sentence unreasonable under Booker

The case, US v. Doe, No. 04-1973 (2d Cir. Apr. 6, 2005) (available here), provided relatively little analysis of the meaning of reasonableness, perhaps due in part to the unusual and extreme facts.  Here's the bulk of the Second Circuit's discussion:

Doe was convicted of two counts of making false statements on passport applications, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1542.  The Presentence Report (PSR) recommended a term of six to twelve months of imprisonment.  At the time of sentencing Doe had already been incarcerated for approximately eighteen months.  Thus, the PSR recommended that Doe be sentenced to "time served" and be released.  Because Doe refused to divulge his true name, the district court upwardly departed to the statutory maximum of ten years.

Under United States v. Booker, 125 S. Ct. 738 (2005), and its interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 3742(e), we review sentencing for reasonableness. In light of the crime charged, the sentencing range recommended, Doe's lack of any provable criminal history, and the district court's inadequate balancing of these factors against the perceived threat posed by Doe, the ten year sentence was unreasonable.  While vexing and, as the Government has argued, potentially obstructive of the administrative processes for enforcement of our immigration laws, we find that Doe's refusal to divulge his identity does not justify the sentence imposed upon him.

April 7, 2005 at 01:59 AM | Permalink


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