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United States v. Booker

Supreme Court of the United States

October 4, 2004, Argued ; January 12, 2005, Decided

(No. 04-104), (No. 04-105)

Opinion

 [*226]  [**746]   Justice Stevens delivered the opinion [****17]  of the Court in part. 1

The question presented in each of these cases is whether an application of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines violated the Sixth Amendment. In each case, the courts below held that binding rules set forth in the Guidelines limited the severity of the sentence that the judge could lawfully impose on the defendant based on the facts found by the jury at his trial. In both cases the courts rejected, on the basis of our decision in  Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296, 159 L. Ed. 2d 403, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004), the Government's recommended application of the Sentencing Guidelines because the proposed sentences were based on additional facts that the sentencing judge found by a preponderance of the evidence. We hold that both courts correctly concluded that ] the Sixth Amendment as construed in  [*227]  Blakely does [****18]  apply to the Sentencing Guidelines. In a separate opinion authored by Justice Breyer, the Court concludes that in light of this holding, two provisions of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (SRA) that have the effect of making the Guidelines mandatory must be invalidated in order to allow the statute to operate in a manner consistent with congressional intent.

Respondent Booker was charged with possession with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of cocaine base (crack). Having heard evidence that he had 92.5 grams in his duffel bag, the jury found him guilty of violating 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) [21 USCS § 841(a)(1)]. That statute prescribes a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life for that offense. § 841(b)(1)(A)(iii).

Based upon Booker's criminal history and the quantity of drugs found by the jury, the Sentencing Guidelines required the District Court Judge to select a "base" sentence of not less than 210 nor more than 262 months in prison. See United States Sentencing Commission, Guidelines Manual §§ 2D1.1(c)(4), 4A1.1 (Nov. 2003) (USSG). The judge, however, held a post-trial sentencing proceeding and concluded by a preponderance [****19]  of the evidence that Booker had possessed an additional 566 grams of crack and that he was guilty of obstructing justice. Those findings mandated that the judge select a sentence between 360 months and life imprisonment; the judge imposed a sentence at the low end of the range. Thus, instead of the sentence of 21 years and 10 months that the judge could have imposed on the basis of the facts proved to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt, Booker received a 30-year sentence.

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543 U.S. 220 *; 125 S. Ct. 738 **; 160 L. Ed. 2d 621 ***; 2005 U.S. LEXIS 628 ****; 73 U.S.L.W. 4056; 18 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 70

UNITED STATES, Petitioner v. FREDDIE J. BOOKER; UNITED STATES, Petitioner v. DUCAN FANFAN

Subsequent History:  [****1] As Amended, January 24, 2005.

Subsequent appeal at United States v. Booker, 149 Fed. Appx. 517, 2005 U.S. App. LEXIS 21124 (7th Cir. Wis., 2005)

On remand at United States v. Fanfan, 468 F.3d 7, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 27563 (1st Cir. Me., Nov. 8, 2006)

Prior History: ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED [****2]  STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT. ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI BEFORE JUDGMENT TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT.

United States v. Fanfan, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18593 (D. Me., June 28, 2004)United States v. Booker, 375 F.3d 508, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 14223 (7th Cir. Wis., 2004)

Disposition: Affirmed and remanded and vacated and remanded.

CORE TERMS

sentencing, Guidelines, cases, invalid, provisions, mandatory, impose sentence, sentencing guidelines, disparities, the Sixth Amendment, sentencing judge, factfinding, enhancements, binding, departures, offender, court of appeals, district court, circumstances, factors, severed, grams, excision, discretionary, jury verdict, determinations, federal sentencing guidelines, standard of review, appellate review, limits

Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, General Overview, Criminal Law & Procedure, Sentencing, Sentencing Guidelines, Imposition of Sentence, Factors, Statutory Maximums, Defendant's Rights, Right to Jury Trial, Trials, Burdens of Proof, Prosecution, Adjustments & Enhancements, Capital Punishment, Aggravating Circumstances, Ranges, Civil Procedure, Judicial Officers, Judges, Discretionary Powers, Jury Trials, Right to Jury Trial, Obstruction of Justice, Obstruction of Administration of Justice, Perjury, Penalties, Separation of Powers, Governments, Legislation, Enactment, Administrative Law, Separation of Powers, Legislative Controls, Criminal History, Case or Controversy, Constitutionality of Legislation, Interpretation, Severability, Presentence Reports, Supervised Release, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Departures From Guidelines, Judicial Review, De Novo Review, Courts, Judges, Proportionality, Plain Error, Harmless & Invited Error, Procedural Defenses, Retroactivity of Decisions