Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Frivolous Sentencing Appeals in the 7th: Maybe It Just Depends on the Panel

Sentencing Law & Policy's own Doug B. is getting a little aggravated with our very own 7th Circuit. See this post from Doug about Judge Posner's complaint that reasonableness review of sentences within the Guidelines are frivolous. The complaints--both Judge Posner's and Doug's--caught my interest, because of United States v. Wasz, a 7th Circuit sentencing case from June about a mother and son theft ring.

It's a great story, set out in fine detail. But the mother got a sentence at the low end of the Guidelines; the son got a below-Guideline sentence despite his greater criminal history. And they were up there arguing about two levels plus or minus, depending on how the loss was calculated. And their method of calculating the loss makes no sense: cost to the victims, who were large retail chains like Home Depot. (The Waszes later sold the stuff on eBay.)

Now perhaps the discussion of how to value the loss was instructive. But I thought this a legitimate candidate for a frivolous appeal. I guess if Judge Posner had been on the Wasz panel, the appeal might not have been a mere candidate.

"Wasz," by the way, in Polish (and in Russian) means "your" (plural). The "Yours" might more appropriately have been named the "Ours." Just a switch of a letter: "Nasz."

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