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June 15, 2005

First Circuit: "No sentencing hearing for you!"

Soup_naziThe brief opinion by the First Circuit Tuesday in US v. Cabrera, No. 03-1890 (1st Cir. June 14, 2005) (available here) had me thinking about the Soup Nazi from the famed Seinfeld episode.  In Cabrera, through an unpublished per curiam opinion, the First Circuit quickly dispatches a claim for an evidentiary hearing with the judicial equivalent of the decree, "No sentencing procedure for you!"  Here is the Cabrera court's work:

First, the appellant claims that the district court abused its discretion in refusing to hold an evidentiary hearing at sentencing.  We do not agree: evidentiary hearings at sentencing are the exception, not the rule. A party seeking such a hearing "must carry a formidable burden of persuasion." US v. McAndrews, 12 F.3d 273, 280 (1st Cir. 1993).

In this case, the appellant could have put forth a different version of the disputed point (drug quantity) by affidavit.  He did not do so.  Given that omission, the court had considerable latitude to decide that the appellant had not satisfied his entry-level burden of showing that material facts were genuinely in dispute. "A district court need not grant an evidentiary hearing . . . merely because a defendant's hopes spring eternal or because a defendant wishes to mount a fishing expedition." Id.

Additional comments on this Seinfeldian disposition can be found at the PRACDL Blog here and at Appellate Law & Practice here.

June 15, 2005 at 01:34 AM | Permalink


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