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April 10, 2006

More reasonableness wins for the government in the First Circuit

As detailed over at AL&P, the First Circuit wrapped up last week by issuing a big batch of criminal opinions, and more than a few had some notable sentencing aspects.  Of particular note, in my view, is the circuit's continued discussion and application of reasonableness review.

Continuing a well-established nationwide pattern (documented here), the First Circuit found within-guidelines sentences in a few cases to be reasonable.  See US v. Alli, No. 05-1698 (1st Cir. Apr. 7, 2006) (available here); US v. Saez, No. 05-2001 (1st Cir. Apr. 6, 2006) (available here).  Both Saez and Alli have some interesting exposition that further fills out the First Circuit's approach to reasonableness review.

Even more informative is US v. Smith, No. 05-1725 (1st Cir. Apr. 7, 2006) (available here), which reverses and remands a below-guidelines sentence as unreasonable and talks through the factors of 3553(a) at some length.  Here is how this opinion concludes:

In a nutshell, the offense is quite serious and the defendant's record unpromising, and there are no developed findings to indicate that rehabilitation is a better prospect than usual. A sentence less than half the minimum range appears to us plainly unreasonable. Although we are unhappy to disagree with the respected and experienced district judge in this case, we cannot sustain the sentence on the findings and explanation before us.

April 10, 2006 at 07:57 AM | Permalink


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