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May 11, 2007

Wonderful Sixth Circuit opinion on purposes and parsimony

Continuing to play the role of my favorite post-Booker, the Sixth Circuit today has affirmed a below-guidelines sentence in US v. Cherry, No. 06-5579 (6th Cir. May 11, 2007) (available here) with some terrific discussion of 3553(a)'s sentencing purposes and the parsimony provision.  Here is a sample:

The essence of the Government’s argument appears to be that the 120-month sentence imposed here cannot be reasonable because it results in such a relatively low sentence — relative, that is, to the Guidelines range of 210 to 262 months. Cherry is, in the Government’s opinion, a run-ofthe- mill offender, and the variance in this case does not comport with § 3553(a)(2)(A)1 because Congress and the Sentencing Commission have expressed their will through the Guidelines. However, the Government’s argument regarding § 3553(a)(2)(A) would give too little effect to the parsimony provision of § 3553(a) — that the district court shall impose a sentence “sufficient, but not greater than necessary,” to comply with § 3553(a)(2).  The district court, moreover, concluded that Cherry is, in a number of ways, unlike other defendants the district court has sentenced for similar offenses.  Thus, the issue is not whether the sentence is below the Guidelines, but whether, as it pertains to this defendant and the offenses he committed, the sentence comports with the purposes of § 3553(a)(2)(A).  The district court imposed a 10-year sentence, double the mandatory minimum. Such a sentence reasonably reflects the seriousness of the offense, promotes respect for the law, and provides just punishment for the offense....

In sum, the district court, in imposing a sentence 43% below the applicable Guidelines range, stressed repeatedly the seriousness of Cherry’s offense, took into account the kinds of sentences available (and concluded that the minimum was too lenient), considered Cherry’s willingness to get help and his progress in counseling, and considered Cherry as an individual entitled to an individualized sentence below the Guidelines.  Although we might have adhered to the Guidelines or imposed a harsher sentence were we in the position of the sentencing court, our review is not de novo and we cannot conclude that the sentence imposed by the district court is substantively unreasonable.

May 11, 2007 at 12:03 PM | Permalink


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