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June 15, 2009

Split Eleventh Circuit ruling on reasonableness of long sentence for one co-conspirator

Today the Eleventh Circuit handed down an interesting ruling on the reasonableness of a sentence in US v. Docampo, No. 08-10698 (11th Cir. June 15, 2009) (available here). Here is how the majority opinion, per Judge Pryor, gets started:

The main question presented by this appeal involves the reasonableness of the sentence of a young adult who was arrested in a sting operation that involved the armed robbery of a fictional stash house of cocaine and who later threatened a witness who testified against him.  The question is whether the district court abused its discretion when it sentenced John Andrew Docampo Jr. to a term of imprisonment of 270 months, instead of the mandatory minimum term of 180 months that he requested, even though some conspirators pleaded guilty and received less severe federal sentences and other conspirators who were juveniles when arrested pleaded guilty as adults in state court and received terms of probation....  Because the other conspirators either pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate or were not prosecuted in federal court, we conclude that they are not similarly situated to Docampo and any disparity in sentences is warranted.  See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(6).  Docampo’s sentence is reasonable.

Here is how the dissenting opinion, per Judge Barkett, gets started:

I concur in the majority opinion but for its determination that John Docampo’s sentence of 22.5 years is reasonable.  I believe a sentencing court’s passing mention that it has considered the 28 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors without more analysis, as in this case, provides an insufficient basis for appellate review and consequently is procedurally unreasonable.  I further believe, under the facts presented, that Docampo’s sentence is substantively unreasonable, a conclusion only bolstered by the far lower sentences imposed on all of his significantly more culpable co-conspirators.

June 15, 2009 at 05:02 PM | Permalink


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