In United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), this Court ruled that the mandatory
use of the United States Sentencing Guidelines violated the Sixth Amendment right
to a jury trial on any fact required to enhance a criminal sentence. The Court
remedied the error by making the Guidelines "effectively advisory" and, therefore,
just one of many factors a court considers in choosing a sentence under 18 U.S.C.
section 3553(a). The Court also prescribed appellate review of sentences for
"reasonableness" in light of all the section 3553(a) factors and the reasons for the
sentence as stated by the sentencing judge. The model of review on which Booker
based this "reasonableness" standard paid "substantial deference" to a sentencing
judge's discretionary choices in departing from the guidelines range, as held in
Koon v. United States, 518 U.S. 81(1996).
In light of the foregoing, these issues are presented:
1. Does an appellate court make the Sentencing Guidelines effectively mandatory
by granting a presumption of reasonableness to the Guidelines range in reviewing a
sentence outside that range, rather than granting deference to the sentencing
judge's decision in light of all the 3553(a) factors?
2. Does granting a presumption of reasonableness to the guidelines range deny the
substantial deference granted a district court's discretionary sentencing decision
under the "reasonableness" standard chosen in Booker?
Certiorari was granted limited to the following questions:
Was the District Court's choice of below-guidelines sentence reasonable?
In making that determination, is it consistent with United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), to require that a sentence which constitutes a substantial variance from the guidelines be justified by extraordinary circumstances?