Thursday, August 17th, 2006

District Courts Cannot Reject Guidelines’ 100:1 Disparity Between Powder and Crack Cocaine even under the “Advisory” Guidelines Regime

United States v. Castillo, Docket No. 05-3454-cr (2d Cir. Aug. 16, 2006) (Katzmann, Sack, Murtha): To those who had hoped that our fair Circuit would have more sense than the First, Fourth, and Seventh Circuits, … think again. In Castillo, the Second Circuit follows those Circuits in vacating and holding unreasonable a sentence based solely on the district court’s policy disagreement with the Guidelines’ 100:1 treatment of powder -vs- crack cocaine. While the Circuit left open the possibility of sentencing “adjustment[s] [based upon] the particularities of the individual defendant or the specific offense,” the same suggestion made in United States v. Anati, Docket No. 05-3800 (2d Cir. July 20, 2006), it firmly concluded that “district courts do not have the authority to reject unilaterally the 100:1 ratio on policy grounds.” Op. 2-3. Click here and here for Professor Berman’s stinging critique of Castillo.

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