Archive | disparity

Monday, March 29th, 2010

High Sierra

United States v. Sierra, No,. 08-2761-cr (2d Cir. March 29, 2010) (Jacobs, Miner, Livingston, CJJ)
Gustavo Sierra pled guilty to one count of drug trafficking and one count of money laundering. The drug count involved 21 kilograms of heroin, while the money laundering count involved the proceeds of the sale of between 2 and 3.5 kilograms. Sierra’s presentence report calculated the base offense level for the money laundering count by using the total amount of the drugs involved in the drug trafficking count. With adjustments, this produced a sentencing range of 135-168 months.
Sierra objected, arguing that the guideline range for the money laundering count should be based only on the drug quantity alleged in that count, which would produce a lower offense level. The district court disagreed, used the higher range, and sentenced him to 135 months’ imprisonment.
On appeal, the circuit affirmed. It characterized Sierra as a

Posted By
Categories: disparity, money laundering, Uncategorized

Continue Reading
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, …

Posted By
Categories: disparity, procedural reasonableness, sentence, Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Location, Location, Location

United States v. Cavera, No. 05-4591-cr (2d Cir. October 11, 2007) (Cardamone, Calabresi, Pooler, CJJ)

Gerard Cavera received an above-Guidelines sentence based on the district court’s view that gun offenses were more serious in densely populated areas like New York city. This opinion is the court’s second attempt to deal with a location-specific reason for imposing a non-Guideline sentence. Confusingly, both attempts have been in this same case.

The first opinion here, back in June, held unequivocally that a district court’s “reliance on community-specific characteristics, such as population density, to impose a non-Guidelines sentence constituted legal error and rendered [the] sentence unreasonable.” This opinion held that it was always inappropriate to use “community-specific” considerations as the basis for deviating from the Guidelines, because such sentences would lead to unwarranted regional disparities in sentencing. Judge Calabresi concurred in the result, but disagreed with the majority’s analysis, rejecting the “broad language . …

Posted By
Categories: disparity, location, sentence, Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Saturday, October 13th, 2007

Steal This Footnote

United States v. Johnson, No. 05-3811-cr (2d Cir. October 10, 2007) (Meskill, Cabranes, Wesley, CJJ)

This is pretty much a case about nothing. The only real nugget is in footnote 4.

Johnson appealed his 120-month gun sentence – the statutory maximum – on several grounds. As is often true, his case had begun in state court, but was later transferred to federal court. Johnson pointed out that had the state prosecution gone forward, he could not have received more than seven years’ imprisonment. On appeal he argued that the district court was required to sentence him so as to take into account (1) the disparity between his sentence and his co-defendant’s, a claim that the court has already rejected, and (2) the disparity between his federal sentence and the sentence he would have received in the state court.

The court rejected this second claim as well, holding that a district …

Posted By
Categories: disparity, sentence, state, Uncategorized

Continue Reading