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Supreme Court of the United States
March 24, 1993, Argued ; May 3, 1993, Decided
[*37] [***603] [**1915] JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court.
In this case we review a decision of the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit holding that the commentary to the [*38] Sentencing Guidelines is not binding on the federal courts. We decide that ] commentary in the Guidelines Manual that interprets or explains a guideline is authoritative unless it violates the Constitution or a federal statute, or is inconsistent with, or a plainly erroneous reading of, that guideline.
Petitioner Terry Lynn Stinson entered a plea of guilty to a five-count indictment resulting from his robbery of a Florida bank. The presentence report recommended [****6] that petitioner be sentenced as a career offender under the Sentencing Guidelines. See United States Sentencing Commission, Guidelines Manual § 4B1.1 (Nov. 1989). Section 4B1.1 provided that a defendant is a career offender if:
] "(1) the defendant was at least eighteen years old at the time of the instant offense, (2) the instant offense of conviction is a felony that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense, and (3) the defendant has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense."
All concede that petitioner was at least 18 years old when the events leading to the indictment occurred and that he then had at least two prior felony convictions for crimes of [***604] violence, thereby satisfying the first and third elements in the definition of career offender. It is the second element in this definition, the requirement that the predicate offense be a crime of violence, that gave rise to the ultimate problem in this case. [****7] ] At the time of his sentencing, the Guidelines defined "crime of violence" as, among other things, "any offense under federal or state law punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year that . . . involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another." § 4B1.2(1). The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida found that petitioner's conviction for the offense of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), was a crime of violence, satisfying the second element of the career offender definition. Although [*39] the indictment contained other counts, the District Court relied only upon the felon-in-possession offense in applying the career offender provision of the Guidelines. In accord with its conclusions, the District Court sentenced petitioner as a career offender.
[**1916] On appeal, petitioner maintained his position that the offense relied upon by the District Court was not a crime of violence under USSG §§ 4B1.1 and 4B1.2(1). The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that possession of a firearm by a felon was, as a categorical matter, a crime of violence. 943 F.2d 1268, 1271-1273 (CA11 1991). [****8] After its decision, however, Amendment 433 to the Guidelines Manual, which added a sentence to the commentary to § 4B1.2, became effective. The new sentence stated that "the term 'crime of violence' does not include the offense of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon." 2 USSG App. C, p. 253 (Nov. 1992). See § 4B1.2, comment., n.2. Petitioner sought rehearing, arguing that Amendment 433 should be given retroactive effect, but the Court of Appeals adhered to its earlier interpretation of "crime of violence" and denied the petition for rehearing in an opinion. 957 F.2d 813 (CA11 1992) (per curiam).
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
508 U.S. 36 *; 113 S. Ct. 1913 **; 123 L. Ed. 2d 598 ***; 1993 U.S. LEXIS 3124 ****; 61 U.S.L.W. 4447; 93 Cal. Daily Op. Service 3203; 93 Daily Journal DAR 5458; 7 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 235
TERRY LYNN STINSON, PETITIONER v. UNITED STATES
Subsequent History: On remand at, Remanded by United States v. Stinson, 30 F.3d 121, 1994 U.S. App. LEXIS 23707 (11th Cir. Fla., 1994)
Prior History: [****1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT.
United States v. Stinson, 943 F.2d 1268, 1991 U.S. App. LEXIS 23050 (11th Cir. Fla., 1991)
Disposition: 943 F. 2d 1268, vacated and remanded.
Guidelines, sentence, violent crime, binding, policy statement, district court, promulgating, interprets, offender, career, courts, sentencing guidelines, federal court, legislative rule, Sentencing Reform Act, explanatory
Criminal Law & Procedure, Standards of Review, Plain Error, General Overview, Entry of Pleas, Guilty Pleas, Sentencing, Sentencing Guidelines, Adjustments & Enhancements, Career Offenders, Criminal History, Three Strikes, Presentence Reports, Possession of Weapons, Unregistered Firearm, Elements, Contracts Law, Contract Formation, Consideration, Ranges, Departures From Guidelines, Judicial Review, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Deference to Agency Statutory Interpretation, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Agency Rulemaking, Rule Application & Interpretation, Separation of Powers, Legislative Controls, Informal Rulemaking, Business & Corporate Law, Authority to Act, Actual Authority, Plea Agreements