Friday, May 11, 2012

Proper factors for consideration when determining the extent of a sentencing reduction

US v. D. Davis:  In this appeal, the appellant challenges the district court's decision to grant the government's Rule 35(b) motion for sentence reduction, for considering other factors than his substantial assistance in determining the extent of the reduction.  The factors the district court considered included the appellant's offense of conviction, his criminal history, and a prior reduction in his guidelines range following the government's 5K1.1 motion.  The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment. 

After determining whether the Fourth Circuit had jurisdiction to hear the appeal in the affirmative, the panel considered whether the district court committed any error in considering factors other than the appellant's cooperation with the police in fashioning his sentence reduction following the decision to grant the government's Rule 35(b) motion.  The Fourth Circuit distinguishes this case from others it has decided on what factors to consider in analyzing whether to grant a Rule 35(b) motion; in those cases, the Fourth Circuit has stated that district courts may not consider any factor other than the defendant's substantial assistance to the government.  Here, the Fourth Circuit determines that the district court is not so limited, based on the plain language of Rule 35(b) and the explicit holdings of several other circuits in agreement. 

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