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April 27, 2007

Yet another (unpublished) affirmance of a below-guideline sentence

A free airport internet connection allows me to report on yet another notable unpublished circuit ruling upholding a below guideline sentence.  This one comes from the Eleventh Circuit in US v. Neufeld, No. 06-12503 (11th Cir. Apr. 26, 2007) (available here), where the panel affirms a post-Booker sentence of 48 months where the guidelines range had been 135 to 168 months (and the defendant, prior to Booker, had actually been sentenced to 135 months).  In support of its ruling, the panel discusses favorably the district court's considerations and range of discretionary authority:

At sentencing and in its later filed statement of reasons, the district court cited in support of the sentence imposed, the extraordinary support available to Neufeld from his family, rabbis and community, which support the district court determined would reduce substantially the possibility of recidivism; the age of Neufeld when first sentenced; Neufeld’s criminal history; the need to provide just punishment and adequate deterrence; Neufeld’s conduct while incarcerated; and, as already discussed, the disparity between the guideline sentence and the sentences imposed on Neufeld’s codefendants. The district court seemed most impressed with the extraordinary support network available to Neufeld but relied on no single section 3553(a) factor to determine the sentence imposed....

We have no doubt that a longer sentence would fall within the range of reasonable sentences from which the district court could choose in the light of the particular facts of this defendant;...  but we can not say that the government met its burden to show that the ultimate sentence imposed was unreasonable.

Thanks much to the readers who keep alerting me to these important affirmances of below-guideline sentences that the circuits keep trying to sneak through by making them unpublished.  (Earlier examples from the Fourth Circuit and the Fifth Circuit perhaps suggest this is a nationwide practice.)

April 27, 2007 at 05:29 PM | Permalink


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I can't wait for the next time that an African-American drug dealer tries the "Please reduce my sentence because I've got great community support for my rehabilitation -- Look, I even have a letter from my minister" approach to sentencing. I'll bet it will be just as successful as Mr. Neufeld's plea.

Posted by: Mark | Apr 30, 2007 9:21:54 AM

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