District Court's Explicit Presumption That Guidelines Were Reasonable Held Reversible Error

U.S. v. Conlan, 2007 WL 2460234 (8/31/07)(Published) - In light of Rita, the 10th reverses a sentence where the district court explicitly applied the presumption of reasonableness to the guidelines. Importantly, the 10th shows some respect for the parsimony clause, quoting from a Sixth Circuit case that says: "A district court's job is not to impose a reasonable sentence. Rather, a district court's mandate is to impose a sentence sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the purposes of § 3553(a)(2). Reasonableness is the appellate standard of review in judging whether a district court has accomplished its task." The defendant preserved the error by telling the district judge the presumption was an appellate standard. The error was not harmless, despite the sentencing judge's reference to some of the defendant's bad features, because the judge sentenced at the bottom of the guideline range, the probation office recommended a downward variance, and the judge thought it was a "difficult" case.