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April 17, 2006

Sixth Circuit squabble over reasonableness

In US v. Jones, No. 05-5657 (6th Cir. Apr. 17, 2006) (available here), a squabble breaks out within a Sixth Circuit panel as the judges debate the particulars of reasonableness review in the course of affirming a within-guideline sentence.  Both the majority opinion (by District Judge Dan Polster sitting by designation) and the dissent (by Judge Karen Nelson Moore) have a lot to say about reasonableness review.  Here is the heart of the majority's view of matters:

The sentencing regime that the U.S. Supreme Court created in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), places the responsibility for sentencing in the hands of the district judge, who must consult the Guidelines and adhere to the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).  While this Court reviews a sentence for both procedural and substantive reasonableness, McBride, 434 F.3d at 476 n.3; Webb, 403 F.3d at 383, a sentence within the applicable Guidelines range should not lose its presumption of reasonableness whenever a district judge does not explicitly address every defense argument for a below-Guidelines sentence. Otherwise, the procedural reasonableness review will become appellate micromanaging of the sentencing process.

I think it is interesting that, by virtue of sitting by designation, Judge Polster had a chance to author an opinion for the Sixth Circuit that essentially demands that his reviewing court be sure not to engage in "appellate micromanaging of the sentencing process" of his sentencing decisions and those of his district court colleagues.

April 17, 2006 at 01:00 PM | Permalink


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