Friday, September 14, 2012

United States v. Booker case brief

United States v. Booker: Booker was convicted by a jury of possessing with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of cocaine base, for which a federal statute prescribes a minimum sentence of 10 years and a max sentence of life. At sentencing, a federal district court judge found by a preponderance of the evidence that D (1) had distributed 566 grams over and above the 92.5 grams that the jury found and (2) had obstructed justice. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the judge’s additional quantity finding increased D’s base offense level from 32 to 36. The effect, together with that of the enhancement that the guidelines prescribe for obstruction of justice, was to place Booker in a sentencing range of 360 months (30 years) to life. Booker appealed, challenging the sentence on the ground that the federal sentencing guidelines violate the 6th Amendment insofar as they permit the judge to find facts that determine D’s sentencing range. The 7th Circuit reversed, holding that the federal sentencing guidelines, as applied in this case, violated the 6th Amendment as interpreted in Blakely.
      • MAJORITY: They say the guidelines are unconstitutional b/c mandatory – make discretionary
        1. JPS, AS, DHS, CT, RBG
      • DISSENT: They say the guidelines are unconstitutional b/c violates 6th amendment – make juries decide
        1. SOC, SGB, AMK, CJ
      • REMEDY: Largely crafted by those who don’t even like the results!
        1. SOC, SGB, AMK, CJ, RBG (WTF is up with RBG? Pick a side!)
    2. HOLDING? Three solutions posed, only one followed:
      • (1) What the Government wants the Court to do
        1. Don’t overrule the guidelines but if you do it, they want it done in the following way…
          1. They only want the court to invalidate particular problematic things – not excise the mandatory language:
            1. Ex: Assume the guidelines say you MUST decrease the sentence by 2 points for substantial assistance to government. Under the majority’s solution they would just read this as a suggestion – “you may decrease” not you “must”. But everyone tends to assume that the decreases are okay – they worry about the increases only! They assume decrease do not violate Booker and Fanfan
            2. If you take the gov’t suggestion, you would HAVE to decrease but only suggested that you increase. This puts a heavier thumb on the scale for lighter sentencing.
      • (2) What the dissent wants to do
        1. The Blakely-ization, or Apprendi-ization of the guidelines. Want 6th amendments inserted within the guidelines. Juries determine WHOLE sentence.

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