Holguin-Hernandez v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: June 3, 2019
  • Case #: 18-7739
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 746 Fed. Appx. 403 (5th Cir. 2018)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether a formal objection after pronouncement of sentence is necessary to invoke appellate reasonableness review of the length of a defendant’s sentence.

Petitioner, convicted of possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, was sentenced to imprisonment and supervised release.  While on release Petitioner was arrested again for the same offense, resulting in a petition to revoke Petitioner’s release being filed. Before the revocation hearing, Petitioner pleaded guilty to the new charge and the statutory minimum sentence of 60-months was imposed.  At the revocation hearing, the district court determined that Petitioner’s violations fell within the guidelines sentencing range of 12-18 months. Petitioner argued for concurrent sentences, reasoning a consecutive sentence neither effected deterrence nor advanced public interest. The court revoked and imposed a consecutive 12-month sentence. Petitioner appealed, arguing the sentence was unreasonable and greater than required by 18 U.S.C. §3553(a) and §3583(e).  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Petitioner failed to raise a formal exception or objection to challenge the sentence in district court, warranting only plain-error review. In Rita v. United States., 551 U.S. 338 (2007), the Supreme Court held that “reasonableness review was an appellate standard, not a sentencing standard” used by district courts. However, the Supreme Court never addressed whether a formal objection by the defendant at the time of sentencing was required. Petitioner sought certiorari, arguing that the circuit split on this requirement for a formal objection to obtain a reasonableness standard review, should be resolved.

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