Archive | Rule 52

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Supreme Court to decide whether plain-error review applies when defendant does not object to sentence as substantively unreasonable at sentencing

Today the Supreme Court granted cert. in Holguin-Hernandez v. United States, S. Ct. No. 18-7739, to resolve the earth-shattering question of whether plain-error review applies to an appellate claim of substantive unreasonableness (i.e., “The sentence is too damn long!”) when defense counsel did not object to the sentence’s unreasonableness at sentencing. The case comes out of the 5th Circuit, the only Circuit to apply plain-error review in this situation. Eight Circuits have held that a post-sentence objection is not required to invoke regular ol’ “substantive reasonableness” review (i.e., abuse of discretion review) on appeal. The Second Circuit has dodged this question, concluding every time that it need not resolve the issue because the challenged sentence is proper even under ordinary reasonableness review. See, e.g., United States v. Nesbitt, 757 F. App’x 13, 14 (2d Cir. Nov. 26, 2018).


As we breathlessly await The Nine’s …

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Categories: plain error, Rule 52, substantive reasonableness

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Saturday, October 6th, 2007


United States v. Villafuerte, Docket No. 06-1292-cr (2d Cir. September 21, 2007) (Walker, Cabranes, CJJ, Goldberg, DJ)

United States v. Hirlman, Docket No. 05-3677 -cr (2d Cir. September 27, 2007) (Winter, Walker, Sack, CJJ)

These two cases, although not related, together provide new insights into an extremely important area – the need to preserve sentencing issues for appeal.

Villafuerte is a very disturbing case. For nearly two decades, the conventional wisdom in the Second Circuit has been that appellate claims relating to the procedural aspects of sentencing – e.g., whether the court understood its departure authority, made adequate legal findings in support of an enhancement, or gave the defendant an opportunity to allocute – would be reviewed on appeal, even where there was no specific objection pointing out the procedural failing.

Villafuerte changes all that. In this case, the Circuit holds that the most common post-Booker claims about procedural unreasonableness …

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Categories: findings, notice, objection, plain error, preservation, Rule 52, Uncategorized

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