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August 8, 2007

Sixth Circuit reverses another below-guideline sentence

After a fairly quite post-Rita summer, the circuits are now for some reason starting to crank out reasonableness opinions at a steady clip.  Today's first opinion of note in this regard comes from the Sixth Circuit in US v. Keller, No. 05-6562 (6th Cir. Aug. 8, 2007) (available here).  Here is how it starts:

Stephen Keller and Grant Sutherlin were convicted of multiple counts of fraud and money laundering in connection with their operation of a viatical company. At their initial sentencing hearings, the district court imposed the lowest possible sentence on both defendants, pursuant to the then-mandatory Sentencing Guidelines. Sutherlin was sentenced to 151 months of imprisonment and Keller received 168 months. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), both defendants’ sentences were vacated and their cases remanded for re-sentencing. On remand, the district court imposed sentences on each defendant that varied downward substantially from their respective Guidelines’ minimums. The court sentenced Sutherlin to 36 months in prison, representing a variance of 115 months; Keller was sentenced to 120 months in prison, which constitutes a variance of 48 months.

The Government now appeals Sutherlin’s sentence as substantively unreasonable. In addition, Keller appeals his sentence as both procedurally and substantively unreasonable. For the reasons described below, we VACATE Sutherlin’s sentence and REMAND for re-sentencing, and AFFIRM Keller’s sentence.

August 8, 2007 at 11:36 AM | Permalink


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