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United States v. Zompa

United States District Court for the District of Maine

July 26, 2004, Decided

CRIMINAL NO. 04-46-P-S-01

Reporter

326 F. Supp. 2d 176 *; 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14335 **

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. NICHOLAS ZOMPA, Defendant

Disposition:  [**1]  Government's request for statement of alternative sentences denied.

Case Summary

Procedural Posture

The court sentenced defendant in light of the recent Blakely decision. The court declined to enhance defendant's offense level under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (Guidelines) by using the preponderance of the evidence standard to make a judicial finding of fact as to drug quantity. The government requested a statement of alternative sentences.

Overview

Any enhancement of defendant's base offense level based on the court's finding as to a particular drug quantity violated defendant's right to be sentenced based upon only those facts that he had admitted or that the government had proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The majority opinion in the Blakely decision made clear that a court's authority to sentence any defendant derived wholly from the jury's verdict or, in the case of a plea, derived wholly from the facts that defendant admitted in conjunction with pleading guilty. The Sixth Amendment did not allow a court to enhance defendant's sentencing range based on a judicial finding of facts by a preponderance of the evidence. The government contended that the Guidelines were not severable and that if the court was unwilling or unable to apply enhancements as a result of the Blakely decision, the entire Guidelines had to fall. The Blakely decision did not render Guidelines completely unconstitutional. Rather, the unconstitutional aspects of the Guidelines, i.e., judicial fact finding utilizing a preponderance of the evidence standard as a procedural vehicle for sentence enhancement, could be severed from the rest of the Guidelines.

Outcome

The government's request for a statement of alternative sentences was denied.

LexisNexis® Headnotes

Criminal Law & Procedure > Sentencing > Sentencing Guidelines > General Overview

Criminal Law & Procedure > Sentencing > Imposition of Sentence > Statutory Maximums

HN1 The reasoning of United States Supreme Court Blakely decision applies to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Criminal Law & Procedure > Sentencing > Imposition of Sentence > Evidence

Criminal Law & Procedure > ... > Entry of Pleas > Guilty Pleas > General Overview

Criminal Law & Procedure > Sentencing > Imposition of Sentence > Statutory Maximums

HN2  Evidence

The majority opinion in the Blakely decision makes clear that a court's authority to sentence any defendant derives wholly from the jury's verdict or, in the case of a plea, derives wholly from the facts that defendant admitted in conjunction with pleading guilty.

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