An Appeal to Remember

In US v. Cordell Lester Smith, Defendant Cordell Smith was convicted of drug trafficking and firearms offenses and sentenced to 197 months imprisonment. On appeal, Smith argued that in sentencing him, the district court erred in presuming the reasonableness of his sentence because it fell within the Sentencing Guidelines range. Judge Niemeyer of the 4th Circuit agreed with Smith, holding, “While an appellate court reviewing a sentence may presume that the sentence within a properly calculated Guidelines range is reasonable, see United States v. Go, 517 F.3d 216, 218 (4th Cir. 2008), the sentencing court may not, in sentencing a defendant, rely on this presumption. See Gall v.United States, 128 S. Ct. 586, 596-97 (2007) (citing Rita v.United States, 127 S. Ct. 2456 (2007)). Rather, the sentencing court must “first calculate the Guidelines range, and then consider what sentence is appropriate for the individual defendant in light of the statutory sentencing factors, 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), explaining any variance from the former with reference to the latter.” Nelson v. United States, 129 S. Ct. 890, 891-92 (2009) (per curiam).” The case was remanded for sentencing.

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