Saturday, September 29, 2007

Follow The Bouncing Anders

United States v. Whitley, Docket No. 05-3359-cr (2d Cir. September 17, 2007) (Straub, Pooler, Parker, CJJ) (per curiam)

Once – or rather twice - again, in these consolidated appeals, the Circuit has bounced Anders briefs. Here the court was dissatisfied with the briefs’ treatment of the reasonableness of the sentence. One “merely recite[d] the legal standard for procedural reasonableness and desribe[d] the sentencing process” but did not analyze either the procedural or substantive reasonableness of the sentence itself. The other made conclusory statements about the reasonableness of the sentence but did not analyze the district court’s sentencing determinations or the sentence itself.

After reviewing the purposes of Anders briefs, the court held that such briefs must include a discussion of both the substantive and procedural reasonableness of the sentence, reminding the bar that there is no presumption of reasonableness for Guidelines sentences in this Circuit.

What is the lesson here? It will be a whole heck of a lot easier if appellate counsel avoids filing an Anders brief. Try not to do so unless the client got the sentence he asked for, or the mandatory minimum, or the appeal was waived by a plea agreement.

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