Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Within-GL child-pornography sentence substantively unreasonable

We have blogged before about sentences declared substantively unreasonable by appellate courts, here, here, and here.

But those cases all involved upward variances.

This week, the Second Circuit declared a guideline sentence substantively unreasonable.

The defendant in the case, a first-time felony offender, was convicted of possessing and transporting child pornography. His guideline range was 210-262 months. Sentencing was a "stormy" affair, according to the appellate court, during which the defendant---an "intemperate, out of control, pro se litigant"---"repeatedly clashed with the court." The court sentenced the defendant to 225 months in prison, plus 25 years of supervised release.

On appeal, the Second Circuit reversed, describing this sentence as "shockingly high" and substantively unreasonable. The majority takes apart the child-pornography guideline, emphasizes research demonstrating that recidivism declines with age, highlights the cost of incarcerating aging convicts, and points out that this defendant's sentence was higher than the typical federal sentence for in-person sexual assaults.

And on top of that, the Second Circuit also shot down several onerous conditions of supervised release.

A must read for anyone seeking a variance or challenging release conditions in a child-pornography case.

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