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March 24, 2006

Fourth Circuit reverses another below-guideline sentence

Continuing what is now a well-established reasonableness review pattern, the Fourth Circuit Thursday reversed a below-guideline sentence in US v. Hampton, No. 05-4224 (4th Cir. Mar. 23, 2006) (available here).  The panel's decision in Hampton and a brief concurrence by Judge Motz merit a close read for a view on reasonableness in the Fourth Circuit.  Here is the money paragraph of the majority opinion:

In order to withstand reasonableness scrutiny, such a dramatic variance from the advisory guideline range must be supported by compelling justifications related to § 3553(a) factors, and "excessive weight" may not be given to any single factor. The sentence at issue here fails in both of these respects. First, although the district court briefly mentioned two § 3553(a) factors — deterrence and protection of the public — in setting forth the variance sentence, the court never explained how the sentence imposed — probation — served these interests.  Furthermore, the court did not explain how this variance sentence better served the competing interests of § 3553(a) than the guidelines sentence would.

March 24, 2006 at 01:19 AM | Permalink


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