ILNews

Judges uphold identity thief's sentence

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In a decision Friday, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals repeated its holding that a District judge can satisfy the review standards under 18 U.S.C. Section 3553(a) without having to list every possible sentencing factor or detail of every argument raised for the federal appellate court to find that the sentence was proper.

Garjon Collins challenged his 108-month sentence after pleading guilty to 11 counts of misusing a Social Security number and 11 counts of aggravated identity theft. His sentence composed of 60 months on each of the counts 1-11 to run concurrently with each other; 24 months on count 12 to run consecutively to counts 1-11; 24 months on count 13, to run consecutively to count 12, and 24 months each on counts 11-14, to run concurrently with each other and with count 13.

Collins believed his sentence should be reduced by 24 months, arguing the judge improperly imposed consecutive sentences on counts 12 and 13, which are aggravated identity theft convictions. He thought the sentences should run concurrently.

The 7th Circuit found Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen’s decision to impose consecutive sentences for two of the 11 convictions for aggravated identity theft was reasonable in light of the facts of the case, and was an appropriate exercise of discretion.

The appellate court also analyzed whether Collins’ sentence was reasonable in light of the sentencing factors of 18 U.S.C. Section 3553(a). Collins argued the District Court failed to consider his mitigating factors, including his stroke and his cooperation with authorities.

The District Court did take note of Collins’ physical impairments and recognized that the Bureau of Prisons has facilities that could accommodate his needs and the fact that the judge didn’t mention Collins’ childhood trauma specifically isn’t an error, wrote Chief Judge David R. Herndon, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, sitting by designation in United States of America v. Garjon Collins, No. 10-2576.

“Although this court has stated this principle before, it bears repetition here: When a district judge makes an adequate, thoughtful analysis of the sentencing factors vis-à-vis the facts of the case, and the district judge makes it clear, on the record, that in reaching the final sentence, he has considered the applicable sentencing factors, and the arguments made by the parties, the sentencing judge has, then, satisfied the review standards which must be met,” wrote Chief Judge Herndon. “It is simply not required that the sentencing judge tick off every possible sentencing factor or detail and discuss, separately, every nuance of every argument raised for this court to find that the sentence was proper.”

In light of the record as a whole, the District judge properly considered the Section 3553(a) sentencing factors and imposed an appropriate, reasonable sentence.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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