Just last week, in United States v. Heath, the Fourth Circuit taught us that what goes up does not necessarily have to come down. This week, again in the context of federal sentencing, we learn that what goes down must sometimes come up.
In United States v. Gaskill, a Fourth Circuit case arising out of the Eastern District of North Carolina, the defendant was convicted and sentenced for making materially false statements. At his sentencing hearing, the district court, over the Government’s objection, granted Gaskill a downward variance from the Guidelines range of 15 to 21 months, and imposed a sentence of 3 years’ probation and 6 months of home confinement. The Fourth Circuit, agreeing with the Government’s assertions, vacated and remanded.
In so doing, the Fourth Circuit found that “the sentence imposed on Gaskill was flawed in that the sentencing court procedurally erred by failing to fully consider the 18 U.S.C. section 3553(a) factors and adequately explain the sentence imposed.”
The Court spent the next 7 pages explaining how the District Court erred. If only the District Court had spent 7 transcribed pages explaining its reasoning. Perhaps at the re-sentencing, it will do just that.