Sentencing

The Federal Docket

United States v. Tyrone Mitchell (3rd Cir. December 2019)

The Court held that the sentencing court committed plain and reversible error when it relied on the defendant’s “bare arrest record” in determining a sentence, as the sentencing court had only cited the Defendant’s “extensive criminal history” without adequately distinguishing between adjudications, convictions, and mere arrests. 

United States v. Maurice Jerome McDonald (8th Cir. December 2019)

The Court held that a defendant is eligible to request a sentence reduction under the First Step Act as long as he was convicted of a “covered offense,” regardless of how his sentence was calculated under the Guidelines. What matters is the offense as defined by the statute-of-conviction.

United States v. Odis Lee Jackson (5th Cir. December 2019)

The Fifth Circuit held that the de novo standard of review applies to a district court’s determination regarding a defendant’s eligibility under the First Step Act, but that the abuse-of-discretion standard applies to the district court’s decision whether to actually reduce the defendant’s sentence.

United States v. Ronald John Bankston, III (11th Cir. December 2019)

The Court held that selling body armor is not sufficient to warrant an enhancement for “using” body armor under U.S.S.G. § 3B1.5, which enhances a defendant’s offense level if the defendant used body armor though “active employment in a manner to protect the person from gunfire” or “as a means of bartering.” The Court held that the definition of bartering applies to trading goods without the use of money.

United States v. Steven Wang (9th Cir. December 2019)

The Court held that the sentencing court committed plain error by applying the general-fraud Guidelines under U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1 because the defendant’s mail fraud conviction also established a visa fraud offense specifically covered under U.S.S.G. § 2L2.1, the Guideline for visa fraud.

United States v. Annamalai Annamalai (11th Cir. September 2019)

Among other rulings on other issues, the Court reversed the defendant’s conviction for bankruptcy fraud, holding that the income from his second religious temple, opened after the first temple filed a petition for bankruptcy and providing the same services as the first temple, did not constitute post-petition property of the first temple’s estate since the temples otherwise operated as two separate entities and the government did not try to pierce the corporate veil.

United States v. Scott Rothstein (11th Cir. September 2019)

The Court held that the district court did not err by allowing the Government to withdraw its Rule 35 motion, as the plea agreement giving the Government discretion to file a motion for a sentence reduction also gave the Government discretion to later withdraw such a motion.

United States v. Marshyia S. Ligon (6th Cir. September 2019)

The Court vacated the defendant’s sentence and ordered that he be re-sentenced in front of another judge, holding that the Government breached the plea agreement when it argued for a sentence within the Guidelines range that was calculated by the sentencing court and that was higher than the range anticipated by the plea agreement. The plea agreement obligated the Government to argue for a sentence within the range based on the parties’ stipulations in the plea agreement.

United States v. Roger William Campbell II (9th Cir. September 2019)

The Court affirmed the district court’s order sentencing the defendant to consecutive terms of imprisonment for violating his supervised release. Even though the district court had initially imposed concurrent terms of imprisonment and supervised release, the Guidelines allow a sentencing court to impose consecutive or concurrent sentences following the revocation of supervised release.

United States v. Kyle Adam Kirby (11th Cir. September 2019)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s sentence. The district court did not err by holding that the Guidelines recommend consecutive maximum sentences for each count of conviction where the Guidelines range (life imprisonment) exceeds the statutory maximum for each count.

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