US v. Rodriguez: Rodriguez pleaded guilty to illegal reentry after having been deported because of an aggravated felony under 8 USC 1326(a) and (b)(2). The PSR recommended that his offense level be increased 16 levels because the prior felony was a crime of violence. Rodriguez objected under Blakely that only an 8-level enhancement was applicable based on the plea. The district court disagreed, applied the 16-level enhancement and sentenced Rodriguez to the bottom of the resulting Guideline range, 46 months.
The Fourth Circuit reversed, holding that Rodriguez adequately preserved his challenge to his sentence under the mandatory Guidelines by objecting under Blakely (he was sentenced pre-Booker). The court further concluded that the Government could not prove that the imposed sentence was harmless. This brings the Fourth Circuit into line with all the other circuits that have considered whether an objection under Blakely preserves a Booker statutory error claim for appellate review.
Congrats to Geremy Kamens and crew from the ED Va. on the win!