May 27, 2009 4th Circuit: Trial courts may not presume reasonableness of Guidelines sentences
Yesterday, the Fourth Circuit confirmed that trial courts may not presume reasonableness of Guidelines sentences:
While an appellate court reviewing a sentence may presume that the sentence within a properly calculated Guidelines range is reasonable, see United States v. Go, 517 F.3d 216, 218 (4th Cir. 2008), the sentencing court may not, in sentencing a defendant, rely on this presumption. See Gall v. United States, 128 S. Ct. 586, 596-97 (2007) (citing Rita v. United States, 127 S. Ct. 2456 (2007)). Rather the sentencing court must "first calculate the Guidelines range, and then consider what sentence is appropriate for the individual defendant in light of the statutory sentencing factors, 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), explaining any variance from the former with reference to the latter." Nelson v. United States, 129 S. Ct. 890, 891-92 (2009) (per curiam).
Because the district court’s statement in sentencing Smith suggests that the court improperly presumed that a sentence within the Guidelines range would be reasonable, we vacate Smith’s sentence and remand for resentencing.
U.S. v. Cordell Smith, ___ F.3d ___ (4th Cir., May 26, 2009). Jon Katz