Friday, June 22nd, 2018

Circuit Upholds Warrantless Search of Car, Remands for Resentencings to Consider Downward Departures and Concurrent Sentences

In United States v. Jones, the Circuit affirmed the district court’s refusal to suppress evidence seized during a warrantless search of a car parked in the common parking lot of a multi-family building.  The Circuit held Jones had no legitimate expectation of privacy in his car because it was parked in a driveway shared by tenants of two multi-family homes, not within the curtilage of his private home, and he did not have exclusive control over the driveway.  Op. at 13-15.

In United States v. Sawyer, the Circuit remanded the case for the second time, this time for resentencing in front of a new district judge.  The Circuit previously had vacated as substantively unreasonable a 360-month sentence for the offenses of producing and receiving child pornography.  In that opinion, the Circuit held that the “30-year sentence would have been appropriate for ‘extreme and heinous criminal behavior’ and the conduct in this case did not rise to such a level” because although Sawyer had “violated both children by exposing them to the camera and touching them in the process, there was no evidence . . . that he engaged in penetrative sexual assault in any form.”  Op. at 5.  Relying in part on Dorvee, the Circuit held that the 30-year sentence “flattened the real and meaningful distinction between Sawyer and other child abusers who have shown themselves to be greater threats.”  Id. at 10.  The original opinion also concluded that Sawyer’s extraordinary history of familial childhood sexual abuse warranted “not just a departure from the Guidelines, but a significant one indeed.”  Id. at 6.  On remand, the district court imposed a sentence of 300 months, identifying Sawyer’s good conduct in prison as the basis for the reduction and repeatedly stating that it thought its original sentence was proper.  Id. at 7.  In other words, the district court did not depart downward on either basis the Circuit had identified as grounds for significant downward departures.  Thus, the Circuit held the district court did not sufficiently address the deficiencies in the original sentencing and vacated the new sentence.  Because it is reasonable to expect that a district court will “have substantial difficulty ignoring [its] previous views during a third sentencing proceeding,” and because the district court here stated at sentencing that “it would probably be better for judicial economy” for a different judge to be reassigned the case in the event of another remand, the Circuit ordered the case reassigned for resentencing.

Finally, in United States v. Olmeda, the Circuit remanded for resentencing where the district court did not address Olmeda’s request for a concurrent sentence pursuant to U.S.S.G. 5G1.3(c), which requires that the federal sentence run concurrent to a “state term of imprisonment [that] is anticipated to result from another offense that is relevant conduct to the instant offense of conviction.”  The Circuit held U.S.S.G. 5G1.3(c) applies where the state charges involving the relevant conduct are pending at the time of the federal sentencing.

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