Whether the sentencing guidelines have finally become familiar enough for consistent application or because there were so few amendments last year,' there seem to be fewer dramatic and controversial Eleventh Circuit decisions regarding sentencing this year than in years past. The court took the opportunity to focus more closely on the process of sentencing itself rather than on the precise application of the guidelines.
The Court wrote extensively about the district courts' frequent failure to create a fully articulated record on which appellate review can be had. Expanding on its earlier requirement that district courts elicit and respond to objections to sentencing issues by the parties set forth in United States v. Jones, the Eleventh Circuit criticized district courts for failing to follow Jones' simple conditions. In a similar vein, the Eleventh Circuit remanded a number of drug crime sentences because the district courts had not sufficiently supported their determinations of the appropriate quantities of drugs involved with facts on the record.
The burden these failed sentences create on the court is obvious; they have been remanded for new sentencing hearings and will undoubtedly be appealed again, only to take up more of the court's time and energy the second time around.
Naturally, the sentencing guidelines cannot be completely divorced from other more general sentencing issues, and the court addressed a number of those as well. These areas include the application of statutory minimum mandatory sentences based on drug quantities and on prior convictions.
"Federal Sentencing Guidelines,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 47:
3, Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol47/iss3/9