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January 17, 2006

Sixth Circuit clarifies reasonableness review

The big legal news this morning comes from the Supreme Court's work in the assisted suicide arena (see SCOTUSblog coverage here; How Appealing here).  But, back in the post-Booker trenches,  I continue to track all the fun the circuits are having this month unpacking the concept of reasonableness review.  I assembled some of the most consequential rulings here and here, and this morning the Sixth Circuit has gotten into the act again with a thoughtful ruling in US v. McBride, No. 04-4347 (6th Cir. Jan. 17, 2006) (available here).

McBride cover a lot of important basic ground concerning the ground rules for reasonableness review, and does so in a cogent and engaging way.  McBride has too many facets to summarize, and thus I will just spotlight a few potent quotables:

Achieving agreement between the circuit courts and within each circuit on post-Booker issues has, unfortunately, been like trying to herd bullfrogs into a wheelbarrow.  The courts have particularly struggled to — and often failed at — properly applying the remedial portion of Booker along with the remedy.  One murky area is what to do about the pre-Booker concept of "departures" under the Guidelines now that the Guidelines are merely advisory....

Before Booker, we reviewed the district court's sentence to determine whether it properly calculated and applied the Guidelines.  Now when a district court imposes and we review a sentence for reasonableness, the focal point is on 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).  In section 3553(a), there are numerous factors for a court to consider, and under Booker's remedial holding, the Sentencing Guideline range is one of those factors.  That is, while the Guidelines remain important, they are now just one of the numerous factors that a district court must consider when sentencing a defendant.

Though McBride is the most important read from the Sixth Circuit today, interesting sentencing issues are also resolved in US v. Arroyo, No. 04-4207 (6th Cir. Jan. 17, 2006) (available here) and in US v. DeCarlo, No. 04-5813 (6th Cir. Jan. 17, 2006) (available here).

January 17, 2006 at 11:05 AM | Permalink


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