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Name: United States v. Booker
Case #: 04-104
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 01/12/2005
Subsequent History: Cross cites: 160 L.Ed.2d 621; 125 S.Ct. 738

Under Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the sentence authorized for Booker’s drug conviction was 210 to 262 months in prison. At sentencing, the court found additional facts by a preponderance of the evidence, and imposed a 360 month sentence. The appellate court held that this application of the Guidelines conflicted with the Apprendi holding, and that under Blakely, the sentence violated the Sixth Amendment. In Fanfan, a companion case decided here, the maximum sentence authorized by the jury verdict was 78 months in prison. The court found additional facts by a preponderance of the evidence which could have instead authorized a sentence in the 188 to 235 month range. Relying on Blakely, the judge concluded he could not follow the guidelines and imposed a sentence based solely on the guilty verdict. The prosecutor appealed. The United States Supreme Court affirmed the Seventh Circuit’s reversal of Booker’s sentence, and vacated Fanfan’s sentence and remanded. Under Blakely, a judge may impose a sentence higher than authorized only where facts have been found beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury or admitted by a defendant. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines required the judge to impose a sentence in excess of that, and therefore violated the right to a jury trial. The mandatory nature of the Guidelines is therefore unconstitutional. The provision requiring the courts to impose sentences within the Guideline range must be severed and excised.