Friday, January 21, 2005

Increased Sentences After Booker

The United States Attorney's Office in Houston (S.D. Tex.) issued a press release on Jan. 20 stating that U.S. District Judge Randy Crane resentenced three defendants convicted of public corruption offenses to increased prison terms due to the Supreme Court's decision in Booker.  The defendants, two former school district officials and a city manager, were originally sentenced on January 11, 2005, under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines to 41 months each.  On Jan. 20, the judge increased the sentences by 7, 13, and 31 months.  According to the press release: "In imposing the increased sentence as to each of the three defendants, Judge Crane held that the original sentence did not reflect the systemic and pervasive corruption of government nor the loss of public confidence in government resulting from each defendant's actions. The judge's ruling included citations to citizen complaint letters to the editor of a local newspaper."

The resentencings raise the Due Process/Ex Post Facto issue discussed in a comment by Peter Goldberger here and by Doug Berman on the Sentencing Law & Policy blog (here). Goldberger and Berman consider whether a court can impose a sentence above the guidelines range for conduct before Booker, when the mandatory aspect of the statute was declared unconstitutional. Goldberger's comment concludes, "For some time to come, post-Booker discretion must, as a matter of constitutional law, be a one-way ratchet favoring lower sentences."  These resentencings will certainly set the issue up for an appeal to deal with the collateral consequences -- still unknown -- of Booker. (ph)

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