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Monday, January 26, 2009

Nelson v. United States: Supreme Court Really Meant it in Kimbrough

The sentencing court clearly applied a presumption of reasonableness to petitioner's Guidelines range, and the circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court, in a per curiam decision, reversed, re-emphasizing that its cases do not allow a sentencing court (as opposed to an appellate court) to presume that a sentence within the applicable Sentencing Guidelines range is reasonable. "The Guidelines are not only not mandatory on sentencing courts; they are also not to be presumed reasonable. We think it plain from the comments of the sentencing judge that he did apply a presumption of reasonableness to Nelson's Guidelines range. Under our recent precedents, that constitutes error." (Court’s emphasis).