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Survey Article


The Eleventh Circuit decided several cases this past year covering a broad range of United States Sentencing Guidelines ("U.S.S.G.") issues. Two areas of particular concern were firearms and departures.

Due to the 1995 Supreme Court decision in Bailey v. United States, several defendants had their firearm convictions vacated and were resentenced. Thus, the Eleventh Circuit in 1998 was faced with reviewing these resentencings to determine the applicability of guideline enhancements for firearms.

The court also decided several cases relating to downward departures based on cultural differences, a defendant's impulse control disorder, the over-representation of a career offender's prior record, and the resolution of sentencing disparities when co-offenders receive a more lenient sentence in the state system. Although the holding in Koon v. United States directs that a district judge's departure decision is subject to an abuse of discretion review, the court reversed most of the downward departure reductions in 1998. As departure requests get more creative, we can expect to see the Eleventh Circuit devoting more time each year to resolving departures in both directions.