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September 5, 2006

Another below-guideline sentence reversed by the Fourth Circuit

Though it's old news, I continue to be amazed that decisions by district judges to impose a sentence below the guidelines are, roughly speaking, five times more likely to be reversed than affirmed (details here).  The latest example I noticed comes from a Fourth Circuit ruling late last week in US v. Kahn, No. 04-4519 (4th Cir. Sept 1, 2006) (available here).

At the end of a long opinion in a multi-defendant case, Kahn provides an overview of the Fourth Circuit's approach to reasonableness review.  Then it reverses a below-guideline sentence because, in the panel's opinion, the district judge gave "excessive weight to the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct ... [and] did not give proper weight to the other § 3553(a) factors."  Tellingly, however, Kahn does not explain what § 3553(a) factors other than the guidelines were not given proper weight (even though the district judge had mentioned many others).

Some related reasonableness review posts:

September 5, 2006 at 10:26 AM | Permalink


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