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Rita v. United States

Supreme Court of the United States

February 20, 2007, Argued ; June 21, 2007, Decided

No. 06-5754

Opinion

 [*341]  [**2459]  [****7]  Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court.

The federal courts of appeals review federal sentences and set aside those they find "unreasonable." See, e.g., United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 261-263, 125 S. Ct. 738, 160 L. Ed. 2d 621 (2005). Several Circuits have held that, when doing so, they will presume that a sentence imposed within a properly calculated United States Sentencing Guidelines range is a reasonable sentence. See, e.g., 177 Fed. Appx. 357, 358 (CA4 2006) (per curiam) (case below); see also United States Sentencing Commission, Guidelines Manual (Nov. 2006) (USSG or Guidelines). The most important question before us is whether the law permits the courts of appeals to use this presumption. We hold that it does.

The basic crime in this case concerns two false statements which Victor Rita, the petitioner, made under oath to a federal grand jury. The jury was investigating a gun company called InterOrdnance. Prosecutors believed that buyers of an InterOrdnance kit, called a "PPSH 41 machinegun 'parts kit,'" could assemble a machinegun from the kit, that those kits consequently amounted to machineguns, and that InterOrdnance had not secured proper [****8]  registrations for the importation of the guns. App. 7, 16-19, 21-22.

 [**2460] Rita had bought a PPSH 41 machinegun parts kit. Rita, when contacted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), agreed to let a federal agent inspect the kit. Id., at 119-120; Supp. App. 5-8. But before meeting with the agent, Rita called InterOrdnance and then sent [*342]  back the kit. He subsequently turned over to ATF a different kit that apparently did not amount to a machinegun. App. 23-24, 120; Supp. App. 2-5, 8-10, 13-14.

The investigating prosecutor brought Rita before the grand jury, placed him under oath, and asked him about these matters. Rita denied that the Government agent had asked him for the PPSH kit, and also denied that he had spoken soon thereafter about the PPSH kit to someone at InterOrdnance. App. 19, 120-121; Supp. App. 11-12. The Government claimed these statements were false, charged Rita with perjury, making false statements, and obstructing justice, and, after a jury trial, obtained convictions on all counts. App. 7-13, 94, 103.

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551 U.S. 338 *; 127 S. Ct. 2456 **; 168 L. Ed. 2d 203 ***; 2007 U.S. LEXIS 8269 ****; 75 U.S.L.W. 4471; 20 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 381

VICTOR A. RITA, Petitioner v. UNITED STATES

Subsequent History:  [****1] US Supreme Court rehearing denied by Rita v. United States, 511 U.S. 1181, 128 S. Ct. 19, 168 L. Ed. 2d 795, 2007 U.S. LEXIS 8990 (U.S., 2007)

Post-conviction relief denied at, Post-conviction relief dismissed at, Summary judgment granted by, Motion denied by, Motion to strike denied by Rita v. United States, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13890 (W.D.N.C., Feb. 6, 2009)

Prior History: ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT.

United States v. Rita, 177 Fed. Appx. 357, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 10850 (4th Cir. N.C., 2006)

Disposition: Affirmed.

CORE TERMS

sentence, Guidelines, appellate court, district court, impose sentence, the Sixth Amendment, sentencing judge, factors, mandatory, cases, judge-found, advisory, court of appeals, reasons, subrange, district judge, offender, sentencing guidelines, sentencing range, circumstances, provisions, departure, courts, appellate review, guilty plea, purposes, maximum, criminal history, jury verdict, within-Guidelines

Criminal Law & Procedure, Sentencing, Appeals, Proportionality & Reasonableness Review, Sentencing Guidelines, General Overview, Imposition of Sentence, Factors, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Right to Jury Trial, Pronouncement