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7th Circuit affirms sentence for sexual involvement with 12-year-old girl

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 135-month sentence given to a man who drove from Illinois to have sex with a 12-year-old Westfield girl, finding that although the District Court miscalculated the imprisonment range, the defendant was sentenced within the correct guidelines range.

Samuel Henzel met the girl online through a chat room about online video games. The two began texting and talking and made plans to meet. The girl did not know Henzel was really 29, although he knew she was 12. When she met him she was surprised by his age, but she agreed to go to a hotel with him. She became uncomfortable and told him she didn’t want to do anything, but he gave her alcohol and drugs and tried to have sex with her.

Henzel pleaded guilty to traveling across state lines with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. There was confusion by the government and the courts as to whether the base level under the sentencing guidelines included a cross-reference to another section of the law, which would require a higher sentencing range. The District Court determined that the government didn’t meet the burden to allow the cross-reference, applied a base level offense of 24, added levels due to circumstances of the crime, and then subtracted three levels because Henzel accepted responsibility.

The judge came up with an offense level of 27, which would have a guideline imprisonment range of 70 to 87 months. She sentenced him above the range to 135 months due to the victim’s age, because Henzel gave her drugs and alcohol, and because she told him she did not want to have sex with him.  

Henzel appealed the sentence in United States of America v. Samuel T. Henzel, No. 11-2293, claiming the District Court sentenced him four years above the guidelines. The 7th Circuit found the District Court actually miscalculated the applicable guidelines range because the cross-reference applied in Henzel’s case. Had the District judge applied the cross-reference, the total offense level would have ended up at 31, to which the applicable imprisonment range would be 108 to 135 months.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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