Archive | procedural reasonableness

Monday, August 28th, 2017

Second Circuit Vacates Sentence Based on Erroneous PSR

Today, in United States v. Genao, the Second Circuit vacated an illegal reentry sentence as procedurally unreasonable where the sentencing court relied on a factually erroneous presentence investigation report (PSR) to calculate the defendant’s Guidelines range. The opinion is notable both for its analysis of whether an offense under the New York burglary statute is a “crime of violence” and its determination that the district court failed to satisfy § 3553(c)’s requirement that it provide reasons for its sentence in open court.

You can access the opinion here.

Roman Bartolo Genao was convicted of illegal reentry, and had previously been convicted in New York state of first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary. At the time of Genao’s sentencing, the Guidelines imposed a 16-level enhancement for illegal reentry sentences where the defendant had previously been convicted of a “crime of violence.” (This Guideline has since been revised to impose enhancements based …


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Categories: 3553(c), Johnson, plain error, procedural reasonableness, sentencing

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Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

How Severe is Too Severe (for Production of Child Porn)?

“Serious nonhomicide crimes may be devastating in their harm[,] but in terms of moral depravity and of the injury to the person and to the public, they cannot be compared to murder in their severity and irreovocability.”  So said the Second Circuit today in United States v. Brown, No. 13-1706-cr (June 14, 2016)  (quoting the Supreme Court decision in Graham v. Flordia, 560 U.S. 48, 69 (2010)), in remanding a 60-year sentence for production of child pornography on procedural grounds that look awfully substantive.  The opinion contains must-use language for advocates at sentencing for a less-than-extreme sentence in any non-homicide case.

The majority opinion (written by J. Pooler with J. Sack signing on) found that the District Court (J. Sharpe, NDNY) may have misunderstood certain facts in imposing a virtual life sentence for photographing and disseminating sexual images of three young girls and possessing thousands of other images of …


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Categories: child pornography, procedural reasonableness, sentencing, substantive reasonableness, Uncategorized

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Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Rehab? No, No, No.

United States v. Gilliard, No. 11-1088 (2d Cir. February 16, 2012) (Wesley, Lohier, CJJ, Rosenthal, DJ)

Tapia v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 2382 (2011), held that the district court cannot impose or lengthen a prison sentence based on the defendant’s rehabilitative needs. Here, the circuit joins the national trend of reading Tapia narrowly.

Troy Gilliard, sentenced before Tapia came down, faced a 57 to 71 month range for heroin trafficking; both the defendant and the government sought a within-guideline sentence, and probation recommended 65 months, also within the range. In imposing sentence, the court mentioned Gilliard’s criminal history, the seriousness of the offense, the need for specific deterrence, and also mentioned Gillard’s rehabilitative needs – he had both substance abuse and medical issues – while in custody, noting that it was “important” that he be “sentenced in such a way that you are able to address those problems.” Taking into …


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Categories: procedural reasonableness, rehabilitation, Uncategorized

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Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Thoroughly Unappealing

United States v. Buissereth, No. 09-5358-cr (2d Cir. March 15, 2011) (Cabranes, Chin, CJJ, Crotty, DJ)

This decision found great fault with a sentencing that “left much to be desired.” The district court “failed to (1) rule on the numerous filed objections to the PSR; (2) rule on the requests for downward departures and a variance; (3) adopt the findings of the PSR; (4) mention, much less articulate its consideration of, the relevant factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a); or (5) calculate an applicable sentencing range under the Sentencing Guidelines.”

Nevertheless, the sentence was within the range specified in the plea agreement’s waiver clause, and the waiver was otherwise valid. The court accordingly dismissed the appeal. But it did note that,= the waiver did not “relieve the District Court of its responsibility to follow the procedural requirements related to the imposition of sentence,” even if it “preclude[d] this …


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Categories: appeal waiver, procedural reasonableness, Uncategorized

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Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Land of Enhancement

United States v. Tutty, No. 09-2705-cr (2d Cir. July 16, 2010) (Calabresi, Pooler, Chin, CJJ)

In United States v. Dorvee, 604 F.3d 84 (2d Cir. 2010), the court held that the child pornography Guidelines are entitled to less deference because they are not the product of an “empirical approach,” and because they “provide for a series of enhancements that apply in virtually every case,” resulting in enormous sentences “even in run-of-the-mill cases.” See Deconstruction Project, posted May 23, 2010. Here, following on the heels of Dorvee, the court found procedural error in the district court’s refusal to consider a broad-based policy challenge to those Guidelines.

Background

Defendant Jason E. Tutty pled guilty to possessing digital images of child pornography that he had received and distributed over the Internet using a file sharing program. He had no criminal history and no know history of sexual contact with a child. At sentencing, …


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Categories: child pornography, procedural reasonableness, Uncategorized

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Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Deconstruction Project

United States v. Dorvee, No. 09-0648 (2d Cir. May 11, 2010) (Cabranes, Parker, CJJ, Underhill, DJ)

In this first-of-a-kind opinion, the court (1) held that a within Guideline – albeit statutory maximum – sentence was substantively unreasonable and (2) found that an offense Guideline other than the crack Guideline was not the product of the Commission’s traditional empirical role and hence, under Kimbrough, was not entitled to deference.

Background

While chatting online with undercover officers posing as teenage boys, Justin Dorvee sent them computer files containing child pornography. He was arrested when set out to meet one of the boys. A search of his home revealed several thousand still images and more than 100 videos containing child pornography. He ultimately pled guilty to one count of distribution of child pornography.

Under a correct application of U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2, which prescribed a base offense level of 22 plus enhancements for such …


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Categories: child pornography, procedural reasonableness, substantive reasonableness, Uncategorized

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Saturday, May 8th, 2010

American Idle

United States v. Hernandez, No. 09-1421-cr (2d Cir. May 5, 2010) (Jacobs, Kearse, Calabresi, CJJ)

Here, the circuit found that the defendant’s sentence was procedurally unreasonable because it took the district court fifteen years to get around to imposing it.

Background

In 1991, Hernandez was convicted after a jury trial of drug trafficking and associated crimes of violence. Judge Platt sentenced him to 405 months’ imprisonment and a large fine. The sentence included an aggravating role enhancement. On Hernandez’ first appeal, decided in 1993, the court vacated the sentence because the judge had imposed the enhancement over objection but had made “no finding” with respect to Hernandez’ role.

Judge Platt did not act on the remand. In 1997, at the government’s request, he appointed counsel for Hernandez, but still did not resentence him. Finally, in 2008, fifteen years after the remand was ordered, Hernandez’ mother wrote the judge a letter …


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Categories: procedural reasonableness, Uncategorized

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Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Timewell Spent

United States v. Timewell, No. 07-4587-cr (2d Cir. June 1, 2009) (Miner, Raggi, Livingston, CJJ)

Here, the circuit held that the district court’s reasons for denying a Crosby remand rendered the sentence procedurally unreasonable. It remanded the case for reconsideration, with instructions.

Background

Gregory Timewell was a major international trafficker in marijuana and hashish. In the late 1990’s, he was prosecuted in the Eastern District of New York, where he cooperated with the government. In 1998, he signed a cooperation agreement, which included a list of his assets that he agreed to forfeit to the government. Three years later, it emerged that Timewell had misled the government about some of his assets – millions of dollars hidden in Switzerland. His explanation was that, at the time of his original cooperation, he believed that the money had been appropriated by one of his associates. He later learned that this was not …


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Categories: procedural reasonableness, Uncategorized

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Sunday, December 7th, 2008

Take It To The Banc

United States v. Cavera, No. 05-4591-cr (2d Cir. December 4, 2008) (en banc)

Gerard Cavera pled guilty to participating in a scheme in which guns were purchased in the South then transported to New York City for sale. At sentencing, the district court imposed a sentence six months longer than the top of the Guideline range, and an above-Guideline fine, based on two “location specific” concerns. The court held that firearms offenses are more dangerous in densely populated urban environments and that the need for deterrence was greater because New York’s strict gun laws made it one of the few places where gun-running was profitable.

On Cavera’s appeal, a panel of the court vacated the sentence as procedurally unreasonable (the case was blogged here twice, most recently in October 2007 under the title Location, Location, Location). The circuit then took up the case en banc. Although the court divided deeply …


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Categories: procedural reasonableness, substantive reasonableness, Uncategorized

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Friday, May 2nd, 2008

State of Disagreement

United States v. Williams, No. 05-4416-cr (2d Cir. April 25, 2008) (Calabresi, Cabranes, CJJ, Korman, DJ)

Here, the court vacated two below-guideline sentences that seemed to have been imposed largely in order to minimize a perceived disparity between the sentence recommended by the guidelines and the sentence that would have been meted out in state court.

Williams and Shuler sold crack together in Yonkers. They were first charged in state court, then the case was transferred to federal court. For reasons that are not clear, they were separately charged and their cases were handled by different district judges.

Williams was sentenced first, by Judge McMahon. He faced a 70 to 87 month range (now it would be 57 to 70 due to the crack guideline amendments) but the judge, persuaded by Williams’ attorney that the plea offer from Westchester County D.A.’s office’s would have been between 12 and 66 months, …


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Categories: disparity, procedural reasonableness, sentence, Uncategorized

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Monday, March 24th, 2008

Fraud Man Out

United States v. Cutler, No. 05-2516(L) (2d Cir. March 17, 2008) (Jacobs, Kearse, Pooler, CJJ)

In this case, the government successfully appealed the exceptionally lenient sentences that Judge Preska imposed on two defendants convicted of a multi-million dollar fraud. The circuit found that the sentences were both procedurally and substantively unreasonable, and remanded the case for resentencing.

Facts

James Cutler was the CFO of a holding company that owned hotels; Sanford Freedman was its general counsel. Together, they helped the company and its principals cheat a number of banks out of more than $100 million. In very brief, the scheme worked like this:

In the 1990’s, the holding company restructured its debt, and its principals executed deficiency notes that made them personally liable for those debts. Around the same time, they sold key assets of their company to another company for stock worth more than $100 million. Although they therefore …


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Categories: procedural reasonableness, sentencing, substantive reasonableness, Uncategorized

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