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December 29, 2006

Sixth Circuit affirms above-guideline sentence in TSA case

The Sixth Circuit today in US v. Ahmed, No. 05-2319 (6th Cir. Dec. 29, 2006) (available here), affirms a sentence where the guidelines called for a sentence of 0 to 6 months, but the district judge imposed 18 months' imprisonment.  Here is the notable context from the start of the court's opinion:

Sadeq Ahmed was indicted on two counts of making false statements in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2), based on written answers he gave about his employment history as part of his background investigation for a baggage screener position with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). After a jury trial resulted in guilty verdicts on both counts, the district court sentenced him to 18 months of imprisonment. Ahmed now appeals his conviction, alleging insufficiency of the indictment and evidentiary errors; and his sentence, alleging that the district court’s imposition of a sentence above the guidelines range was unreasonable.  We affirm.

On appeal, Ahmed complained that "his unpopular speech was impermissibly considered as a factor" to increase his sentence.  But the Sixth Circuit panel summarily dismissed any First Amendment concerns.  I wonder what the gurus at The Volokh Conspiracy might think of that.

December 29, 2006 at 10:48 AM | Permalink


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The discretion to go up also includes the discretion to go down with a sentence, but it seems like judges are taking it all in one direction. Wonder why? Or am I the one out in left field?

Posted by: "Major" Mori | Dec 29, 2006 11:50:00 AM

Could it be that it builds "credibility" anticipating the case in which the departure downward is warranted?

Why can't they live withing the guidelines? Are the departures swallowing the rules? I don't have the answers but these seem to be interesting questions to me.

Posted by: "Major" Mori | Dec 29, 2006 12:50:44 PM

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