Sentencing Potpourri

U.S. v. Prado | 12-3762
U.S. v. Jackson | 13-1496
U.S. v. Peters | 12/3830

March 2014

While the Court issued no monumental sentencing decisions in February, there were two opinions issued worth filing in your folder of quotable cases – and one worth filing in the recycling bin.  

Quotable: In United States v. Prado, No. 12-3762, the Seventh Circuit held that a district court considering the sentencing factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3553 “has considerable power to adopt its own framework in order to meet the ends of justice.”  In particular, there is no requirement that unwarranted sentencing disparities be presented on a national basis.  An unwarranted sentencing disparity can exist between as few as two defendants, and nothing in the law constrains a judge from comparing one defendant’s sentence to another’s if justice so demands. Similarly, in United States v. Jackson, No. 13-1496, the Seventh Circuit loosened the grip of the federal sentencing guidelines even further, noting that a “sentencing judge is always able, given the advisory nature of the Guidelines and the sentencing criteria set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553, to determine that the defendant’s offense level and sentencing range over or under‐represent the extent of his criminal conduct and to adjust the sentence accordingly.”

Recyclable: In United States v. Peters, No. 12-3830, the Seventh Circuit reminds us that the exclusionary rule does not bar the admission at sentencing of evidence seized in violation of the constitution – even if the constitutional violation was “egregious” and even if consideration of the drugs unconstitutionally seized increases the applicable guideline range from 41-51 months to 110-137 months.