United States v. Leatch
Opinion Date: June 6, 2017
Areas of Law: Criminal Law
A court does not depart under USSG 4A1.3 when calculating a defendant's applicable guideline range, but instead departs from the applicable guideline range under section 4A1.3 after having calculated that range. After defendant's 262 month sentence for trafficking in crack cocaine was reduced to 235 months, he argued that he should have received a greater reduction to account for the downward departure based on overrepresented criminal history that the district court awarded him at his original sentencing. The Fifth Circuit rejected defendant's contention that a district court's inability to impose the previously-applied departure violated United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005); no ex post facto violation occurred here, as the amendment to the USSG 1B1.10 commentary did not have the effect of retroactively increasing the punishment for an offense; and the court rejected the argument that Congress's instructions that the Sentencing Commission determine whether and when a sentencing reduction should apply violated the separation of powers. Furthermore, defendant failed to establish that the district court's inability to reapply the departure violated res judicata or collateral estoppel, and depriving defendant of the departure would not undermine the sentencing goal of proportionality between himself and his codefendants. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.
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