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United States v. Cooper

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

October 19, 2005, Argued ; February 14, 2006, Filed

No. 05-1447



SCIRICA, Chief Judge.

Defendant Lydia Cooper contends her criminal sentence was unreasonable under United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220, 125 S. Ct. 738, 160 L. Ed. 2d 621 (2005). Cooper also challenges the District Court's failure to depart downward under U.S.S.G. § 4A1.3. At issue is the imposition of criminal sentences post-Booker. We will affirm.

On September 2, 2004, Cooper pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to deliver cocaine base (crack) in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. [**2]  Cooper had two prior convictions in 1989 -- conspiracy to deliver .39 grams of cocaine and conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver 22 packets of cocaine. The District Court classified Cooper as a career offender, placing her at an offense level of 29 and a criminal history category of VI, or a guidelines range of 151 to 181 months. 1

Cooper was sentenced on January 31, 2005, three weeks after the Supreme Court issued its opinion in United States v. Booker, which held that the federal sentencing guidelines are advisory. 125 S. Ct. at 764-65. ] After Booker, "the district courts, while not bound to apply the Guidelines, must consult those Guidelines and take them into account when sentencing." Id. at 767. As before Booker, district courts must impose sentences that promote the "sentencing goals" listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). 2  [**3]   [*326]  Id. at 764-65.

At sentencing, the District Court granted the government's motion for a reduction under U.S.S.G § 5K1.1 in light of her substantial assistance to the government. The court concluded Cooper's assistance warranted [**4]  a seven-level departure, resulting in an advisory guidelines range of 84 to 105 months.

Cooper requested a further departure of one level under U.S.S.G. § 4A1.3, contending her assigned criminal history category significantly over-represented the seriousness of her actual criminal past. She asked the court to consider several facts, including the 15-year lapse between her predicate and prior offenses and the small amount of drugs involved in her prior crimes. Cooper pointed out she received relatively short, concurrent sentences for the prior offenses -- 6 to 23 months incarceration and two years probation -- and was paroled after serving the minimum sentence.

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437 F.3d 324 *; 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 3453 **


Subsequent History: Corrected by United States v. Cooper, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 8075 (3d Cir. Pa., Feb. 14, 2006)

Subsequent appeal at United States v. Cooper, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 14988 (3d Cir. Pa., July 7, 2009)

Prior History:  [**1]  On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. D.C. Criminal No. 03-cr-00333-3. (Honorable James M. Munley).


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Criminal Law & Procedure, Sentencing, Imposition of Sentence, Factors, Sentencing Guidelines, General Overview, Appeals, Evidence, Presumptions, Particular Presumptions, Regularity, Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Creation, Departures From Guidelines