Tuesday, December 24, 2013

United States v. Tucker case brief

United States v. Tucker case brief summary
404 U.S. 443 (1972)

Defendant was convicted of armed bank robbery and sentenced to the maximum term authorized by statute. Three previous felony convictions were considered during sentencing. Two of the convictions were later found constitutionally invalid. In the proceeding that defendant instituted under 28 U.S.C.S. § 2255, the government sought review of a judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which remanded for the case for resentencing.

The government argued: 1) that the federal district judge had largely unreviewable discretion in imposing defendant's sentence; 2) that in exercising that discretion his relevant inquiry was not whether the defendant had been formally convicted of past crimes, but whether and to what extent the defendant had in fact engaged in criminal or antisocial conduct; and 3) that in view of other detrimental information about defendant possessed at the time of sentencing, it was highly unlikely that a different sentence would have been imposed even if the judge had known that two of defendant's previous convictions were constitutionally invalid. The government concluded that to remand for resentencing would impose an artificial and unrealistic burden upon the district court.

  • The Court disagreed and affirmed the judgment. 
  • The Court held that the case dealt not with a sentence imposed by the informed discretion of a judge, but with a sentence founded in part upon misinformation of constitutional magnitude. 
  • The Court held that defendant's sentence could have been different if the sentencing judge knew that two of defendant's previous convictions were unconstitutional.
The court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals.

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