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May 10, 2005

Notable appellate review dicta from the 11th Circuit

Slowly but surely, the circuits are providing clues as to the nature and process of post-Booker appellate review.  The Eighth Circuit today in Mashek, as discussed here, directly spoke to its review process, and now I see the Eleventh Circuit in US v. Robles, No. 04-13596 (11th Cir. May 10, 2005) (available here), has indirectly addressed review issues in some closing dicta.

In Robles, the district court "first, sentenced Robles to 24 months’ imprisonment under a mandatory guidelines scheme [and then] stated an alternative sentence of 24 months, treating the guidelines as only advisory."  Based on this announced alternative sentence, the Eleventh Circuit concludes that the violation of the defendant's Sixth Amendment rights was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.  And here is the notable dicta in the Robles court's concluding analysis:

Robles argues the district court's alternative sentence fails to account for the new emphasis placed on the factors listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).  After reviewing the § 3553(a) factors, we are at a loss to see how specific consideration of them could possibly change the result. To the contrary, the district court already expressly considered punishment and deterrence when sentencing Robles.

Even if Robles was sentenced post-Booker and we were reviewing for reasonableness, we would not expect the district court in every case to conduct an accounting of every § 3553(a) factor, as Robles suggests, and expound upon how each factor played a role in its sentencing decision. Certainly, the more insight a district court can provide us with, the better it will be for appellate review, especially when the court sentences outside of the guidelines; however, when a district court sentences within the guidelines, we could not expect a court to do more than was done in this case.

May 10, 2005 at 07:39 PM | Permalink


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