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May 25, 2007

So much for a within-guideline sentence being unreasonable in the Eighth Circuit

The Eighth Circuit on Friday issued a number of published sentencing decisions ruling against defendants.  This common reality is itself not newsworthy, but it is notable that one opinion, US v. Goodwin, No. 06-2502 (8th Cir. May 25, 2007) (available here), now affirms the within-guideline sentence of the only defendant that had ever previously had her within-guideline sentence reversed as substantively unreasonable. 

Upon remand in Goodwin, the district judge explained more fully the reasons for giving defendant Goodwin a within-guideline sentence, and now the Eighth Circuit affirms that sentence.  The term Pyrrhic victory comes to mind.

May 25, 2007 at 10:34 PM | Permalink


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So, the Eighth Circuit says the "extreme disparity" between the codefendants that led to the reversal in Lazenby has been cured because now Lazenby's sentence is only 17 months below that of Chris Goodwin. . . . Does that help Claiborne, whose 15 month sentence fell only 22 months under the crack guideline? Why does the Eighth Circuit find a 17 month disparity "not extreme" but a 22 month disparity
"extraordinary"? The amendments to the crack guidelines would make Claiborne's guideline range start at 30 months (wouldn't it?) so his 15 month sentence is only 15 months below the guideline range. Of course, the Eighth Circuit would still reject it because it's 50% below the guideline range (the Eighth Circuit continues to cite its Claiborne opinion to require extroardinary circumstances for all guidelines violations of 50 percent or greater, even while the Supreme Court prepares its opinion in Claiborne).

Posted by: dh | May 26, 2007 8:58:33 PM

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