Monday, April 10, 2017

US v. Gasca-Ruiz, No. 14-50342 (4-5-17)(en banc authored by Watford; Hurwitz and Fletcher concurring).
This is an en banc decision to resolve an intra-circuit conflict over the standard of review that applies to appellate review of a sentencing court's application of the federal guidelines to the facts of a given case. "We conclude that as a general rule such decisions should be reviewed for abuse of discretion."

The 9th recognizes that the review of a legal standard is de novo. Factual findings are reviewed for clear error.  Applying the guidelines to the facts is the subject of the split.  The 9th stresses that identifying the standard is one thing (de novo) and applying the standard to the facts another (abuse of discretion). This application is abuse of discretion because it is a set of found facts, not clearly erroneous, that are applied to a correct standard. Such application is done with the experience of the court and should be of limited precedential value as because it is fact specific.

The general rule is subject to a proviso, or exception: determining whether a prior conviction is a "crime of violence." Prior precedents have held the application as de novo. The 9th continues this standard of review because the legal standard is clear, and the facts themselves are easily applied and on a categorical basis: all such prior convictions are either COVs or not. There may be other exceptions, but the 9th need not determine at this time.

In this case, the 9th holds that the standard for "bodily injury" has been met and was not an abuse of discretion.

Hurwitz, joined by Fletcher, concurs. He argues that under any standard, the determination was correct, and the issue of the standard of review could be left for another day.

The decision is here:


Post a Comment

<< Home