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June 13, 2006

More and more reasonableness wins for government

Though this is becoming more and more of a dog-bites-man story, the government prevailed in a number of notable reasonableness rulings from the circuit courts today.  The especially notable dispositions come from the Eighth and Eleventh Circuits.

From the Eighth Circuit, we get a classic pro-government Booker reasonableness double-shot: an affirmance of an above-guideline sentence as reasonable in US v. Donelson, No. 05-4330 (8th Cir. June 13, 2006) (available here), and a reversal of a below-guideline sentence as unreasonable in US v. Ture, No. 05-3142 (8th Cir. June 13, 2006) (available here).  Of the pair, Ture is especially notable.  The district court seemed to provide a thoughtful justification for imposing a below-guideline sentence of two years of probation when the guideline range was 12-18 months for tax evasion.  But the Eighth Circuit decides that that the district court "failed to accord significant weight to the Guidelines range," and that "any sentence without a term of imprisonment is wholly unreasonable."

From the Eleventh Circuit, we get two sentences found reasonable over defendant objections: US v. Dowd, No. 05-15067 (11th Cir. June 13, 2006) (available here), and US v. Johnson, No. 05-14889 (11th Cir. June 13, 2006) (available here).  Of the pair, Johnson is especially notable because it affirms over Eighth Amendment and reasonableness objections a 140-year prison sentence for producing and distributing child porn.

UPDATE:  I now see from this effective post at AL&P that the government can notch its belt with yet another reasonableness win from the First Circuit today in US v. Brown, No. 05-2170 (1st Cir. June 13, 2006) (available here).

June 13, 2006 at 03:50 PM | Permalink


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To put the First Circuit ruling in U.S. v. Brown in the proper perspective, the 6.4 grams of a mixture or substance containing cocaine base made in the two controlled buys is compared to the weight of U.S. coins.
US Coinage
Penny Standard weight 2.5 grams
Nickel Standard weight 5.0 grams
Dime Standard weight 2.268 grams
Quarter Standard weight 5.670 grams
So Brown had 15 cents in penny weight of cocaine base, which has a street name of crack or base, ball, bisquit, bones boost, boulders, etc.,……, is it the name that satisfies the 100 to 1 punishment. Like white lightening or whiskey, assault weapon or automatic rifle, it is the name assigned by street dealers that require the increased punishment. Why don’t you nickel and dime crack dealers start calling the stuff by a new name and stop spending your adult formative years behind bars. For a few hundred dollars, 70 months in prison, your babies born the year you leave will be 5 when you return and want even know you.
How can either side claim the act or the punishment is reasonable?

Posted by: Barry Ward | Jun 13, 2006 5:15:35 PM

Sheesh...reading about all these federal reversals of sentences as being too low makes me glad to be in Indiana, i.e. defendants get to challenge their sentences as being too much (& are relatively fairly often successful doing so) but the government doesn't get to challenge sentences as being too low. Cuts the work of our appellate courts in half when it comes to sentencing issues anyway!

Posted by: Nelg | Jun 14, 2006 10:35:41 AM

doesnt a nickel weigh .5 grams?

Posted by: Callum | Feb 21, 2008 7:53:48 PM

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