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United States v. Booker

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

July 6, 2004, Argued ; July 9, 2004, 1 Decided

No. 03-4225

Opinion

 [*509]  POSNER, Circuit Judge. A jury found the defendant guilty of possessing with intent to distribute at least 50 grams of cocaine base, for which the statute prescribes a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)(iii). At sentencing, the judge found by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant (1) had distributed 566 grams over and above the 92.5 grams that the jury had to have found (for the defendant did not contest that it was the amount of crack in his duffel bag--he just claimed he hadn't put it there) and (2) had obstructed justice. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the additional quantity finding increased the defendant's base offense level from 32 to 36, U.S.S.G. §§ 2D1.1(c)(2), (4). The effect, together with that of the enhancement that the guidelines prescribe for obstruction of justice, U.S.S.G. § 3C1.1, was to place [**2]  the defendant in a sentencing range of 360 months to life. The judge sentenced him to the bottom of the range.  [*510]  The appeal challenges the sentence on the ground that the sentencing guidelines violate the Sixth Amendment insofar as they permit the judge to find facts (other than facts relating to a defendant's criminal history) that determine the defendant's sentencing range. There is also a challenge to the conviction, based on the judge's limiting the scope of cross-examination, but so obviously harmless was that error (if it was an error) that we will move immediately to the sentencing issue.

We have expedited our decision in an effort to provide some guidance to the district judges (and our own court's staff), who are faced with an avalanche of motions for resentencing in the light of  Blakely v. Washington,159 L. Ed. 2d 403, 124 S. Ct. 2531, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4573, 2004 WL 1402697 (U.S. 2004), which has cast a long shadow over the federal sentencing guidelines. We cannot of course provide definitive guidance; only the Court and Congress can do that; our hope is that an early opinion will help speed the issue to a definitive resolution.

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375 F.3d 508 *; 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 14223 **

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. FREDDIE J. BOOKER, Defendant-Appellant.

Subsequent History: As Amended July 13, 2004.

Later proceeding at United States v. Booker, 542 U.S. 955, 125 S. Ct. 5, 159 L. Ed. 2d 837, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4783 (2004)

US Supreme Court certiorari granted by, Motion granted by United States v. Booker, 542 U.S. 956, 125 S. Ct. 11, 159 L. Ed. 2d 838, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4788 (2004)

US Supreme Court certiorari granted by, Motion granted by United States v. Fanfan, 542 U.S. 956, 125 S. Ct. 12, 159 L. Ed. 2d 838, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4789 (2004)

Motion granted by, Motion denied by United States v. Booker, 542 U.S. 963, 125 S. Ct. 25, 159 L. Ed. 2d 854, 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4989 (2004)

Affirmed by, Remanded by United States v. Booker, 125 S. Ct. 738, 160 L. Ed. 2d 621, 2005 U.S. LEXIS 628 (U.S., 2005)

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. No. 03-CR-026-S-01--John C. Shabaz, Judge.

United States v. Booker, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24609 (W.D. Wis., Sept. 5, 2003)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

sentence, guidelines, sixth amendment, statutory maximum, maximum, federal sentencing guidelines, quantity, sentencing guidelines, maximum sentence, distribute, colleagues, sentencing judge, decisions, obstruction of justice, gram of cocaine, slip opinion, grams, beyond a reasonable doubt, criminal history, imprisonment, departure, cocaine, parole, impose sentence, jury trial, regulations, thresholds, possessed, delegate, drugs

Criminal Law & Procedure, Sentencing, Imposition of Sentence, Factors, Juries & Jurors, Province of Court & Jury, General Overview, Adjustments & Enhancements, Criminal History, Statutory Maximums, Ranges, Findings, Governments, Courts, Judges, Defendant's Rights, Right to Jury Trial, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Right to Jury Trial, Criminal Offenses, Obstruction of Administration of Justice, Sentencing Guidelines, Judicial Precedent