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March 10, 2006

Eighth Circuit reverses another below-guideline sentence BUT also finds a within-guideline sentence unreasonable

Continuing the pattern detailed in this post, the Eighth Circuit today in US v. Lazenby, No. 05-2214 (8th Cir. Mar. 10, 2006) (available here) has reversed as unreasonable another below guideline sentence.  Here is the official summary of the ruling from the Eighth Circuit's official opinion page:

District court granted Lazenby an unreasonable downward variance, as her sentence is 83% below the 70-month bottom of her advisory guidelines range; while defendant has demonstrated post-offense rehabilitation, the sentence imposed lies outside the limited range of choice dictated by the facts of the case; further the sentence results in an unwarranted disparity among defendants guilty of similar conduct; defendant Goodwin's sentence, while at the bottom of the advisory guidelines range, was not reasonable under the facts of this case, and her sentenced is reversed and her case remanded for resentencing.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  A reader has helpfully highlighted that I read Lazenby too quickly and failed to see that the opinion does break new ground with a ruling that a co-defendant's sentence was unreasonable for being within the guideline range.  As the court explains:

Goodwin's appeal is more difficult.  The district court expressly considered the Guidelines and the sentencing factors in § 3553(a) and imposed a sentence at the bottom of the advisory guidelines range. This sentence is presumed reasonable; only highly unusual circumstances will cause this court to conclude that the presumption has been rebutted.  But a number of circumstances make this case highly unusual.

March 10, 2006 at 11:33 AM | Permalink


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Did you read the second half of the opinion?! It vacates a co-defendant's WITHIN Guideline sentence as unreasonably high under the circumstances. It finds that the defendant has rebutted the presumption of reasonableness.

Posted by: anonymouse | Mar 10, 2006 12:03:13 PM

Indeed, I now see there is more to Lazenby, and I have updated accordingly. Thanks.

Posted by: Doug B. | Mar 10, 2006 12:39:06 PM

Does that make this the first case to reverse a within-Guidelines-range sentence as unreasonable under Booker's standard of review?

Posted by: Booker fan | Mar 10, 2006 1:22:56 PM

I believe so.

Posted by: Doug B. | Mar 10, 2006 3:15:48 PM

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