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May 14, 2008

Tenth Circuit finds reasonable giving the guidelines "considerable weight"

Providing an account of what the Supreme Court's Booker progeny means for district courts, the Tenth Circuit yesterday in US v. Zamora-Solorzano, No. 07-3205 (10th Cir. May 13, 2008) (available here) affirms a within-guideline sentence after the district court indicated it had given the guidelines "considerable weight." Here is a key passage from the ruling in Zamora-Solorzano:

To begin, Rita simply held that “the sentencing court does not enjoy the benefit of a legal presumption that the Guidelines sentence should apply.” Rita, 127 S. Ct. at 2465 (emphasis added).  Similarly, we have explained that a district court is not required to give heightened consideration to the Guidelines as a matter of course. See United States v. Smart, 518 F.3d 800, 808 (10th Cir. 2008).  On the other hand, “gravitational pull [towards a Guidelines sentence at the district court level] that reduces sentencing disparity — so long as it does not rise to the level of mandate — is neither unconstitutional nor undesirable.”  United States v. Angel-Guzman, 506 F.3d 1007, 1014 (10th Cir. 2007) (emphasis added).  Thus, neither Rita nor our case law suggests that a district court is precluded from, in its individualized judgment, attributing considerable weight to a Guidelines sentence in a given case.

May 14, 2008 at 09:53 AM | Permalink


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Maybe I'm just confused. Gall says guidelines are "... the starting point and the initial benchmark." "Starting" and "initial" clearly connote further work to be done. So, how does the calculation of a guideline sentence, before consideration of all the other factors, give that number considerable weight. Sounds way too close to mandatory for my liking.

Posted by: Huh | May 14, 2008 10:16:27 AM

That first comment was by me. Like Kent and some others, I prefer not to comment anonymously. For reasons unknown, the computer decided to eliminate my name. Maybe it doesn't like me anymore. In any event, my apologies.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 14, 2008 10:25:25 AM

OK, after this I'm giving up. The first comment here was NOT by me. The first comment under the previous entry, titled, "Sentencing of Army reservist for gun crime causing a stir" was mine.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 14, 2008 10:30:51 AM

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