Dean v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: October 28, 2016
  • Case #: 15-9260
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 810 F.3d 521 (8th Cir. 2015)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether Pepper v. United States overruled United States v. Hatcher and similar Eighth Circuit that limited the "district court's discretion to consider the mandatory consecutive sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) in determining the appropriate sentence for the felony serving as the basis for the Section 924(c) conviction.”

Petitioner was convicted on 11 counts in connection with an armed robbery including two governed by the Hobbs Act, which carry mandatory sentences to run consecutively for 360 months under 18 U.S.C. 924(c). On the non-Hobbs act violations, Petitioner was sentenced to 40 additional months.  During sentencing, Petitioner requested a downward departure from the advisory guideline range on the non-Hobbs Act counts seeking a one-day sentence to be added to the Hobbs Act crimes’ sentence of 360 months.  The trial court announced it did not have such discretion based upon United States v. Hatcher. Hatcher held “that a district court unreasonably varied downward in sentencing a defendant to one day for the crimes not subject to a mandatory minimum, solely because the mandatory sentence was 300 months.” The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court.  Petitioner argues that the Supreme Court should follow the Tenth Circuit in United States v. Smith. Smith applied Pepper v. United States which held that 18 U.S.C. § 3661 places “no limitations” on a court’s power to consider the defendant’s “background” information. Petitioner argues Pepper has overruled Hatcher; and, that by failing to consider the sentence imposed under 924(c) charges, the court is essentially barred from considering an entire category of the defendant’s “background.”

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