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February 17, 2009

Seventh Circuit approves teaching felons a lesson about where they keep illegal firearms

The Seventh Circuit returns from a long weekend with three published sentencing opinions, and the most intriguing of the bunch is US v. Wise, No. 08-2794 (7th Cir. Feb. 17, 2009) (available here). Here is how the opinion starts:

It is an event almost too painful to recount: a four-year-old discharged a gun he found lying around the house, killing his two-year-old cousin.  The inaptly named Anthony Wise is the person who left the loaded gun on a window ledge behind a computer.  As it turns out, Wise was even extra unwise because he was a convicted felon who could not legally possess a gun.  As a result of all this, Wise was charged and convicted for being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).  His sentence was enhanced because the judge found that he had also violated an Illinois statute prohibiting child endangerment.  Wise was sentenced above the guideline range to a term of 120 months in prison.  He contends the enhancement was improper and that the sentence is unreasonable.

In light of this opening paragraph, few will be surprised to learn the word that ends the opinion: "AFFIRMED."  A justification given by the sentencing judge for the statutory maximum sentence was that anything less "would not send the right signal in terms of deterrence," and the Seventh Circuit panel in turn decides it "cannot say there was an abuse of discretion."

February 17, 2009 at 01:13 PM | Permalink


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