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November 14, 2006

Ninth Circuit questioning notable terrorism sentencing

As detailed in this AP report, at oral argument in the Ninth Circuit on Monday, a panel expressed concerns about the sentencing of Ahmed Ressam, who earlier this year received a federal sentencing of 22 years in prison for planning to bomb Los Angeles International Airport.  Here are some more details:

The three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments from U.S. Attorney John McKay and from Ressam's lawyer, Tom Hillier, challenging aspects of the sentence District Judge John C. Coughenour imposed last year....  Prosecutors, who had asked for a 35-year sentence, appealed on the grounds that Coughenour's sentence was too lenient and that it may have been motivated by his distaste for the Bush administration's treatment of enemy combatants....

None of the judges indicated in their questions that they believed Ressam's sentence should have been longer. Nor did they comment on Coughenour's remarks at sentencing criticizing the Bush administration's use of military tribunals and detainment of "enemy combatants."  Two of the judges — [Pamela] Rymer and Marsha Berzon — said [District Judge] Coughenour did not explain the sentence in much detail.  Whether that's a problem remains an open question, Berzon said.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases that touch on the issue of how much explanation is required when judges depart from advisory sentencing guidelines.... Ressam's case is not expected to be resolved until after the Supreme Court rules on the pending cases. The appeals judges said they were weighing whether to sit on Ressam's case until the high court rules, or to send it back so that Coughenour can sit on it.  "Either way it will be sat upon," Rymer said.

November 14, 2006 at 05:46 AM | Permalink

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