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Judges uphold man’s sentence under newer guidelines

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals had to decide Thursday whether the sentencing of a man under the 2011 Sentencing Guidelines for child pornography offenses that took place over the course of seven years created constitutional problems since different guidelines were in place when he committed the crimes.

The judges unanimously decided that any error by the District Court in sentencing Randall Ray Fletcher Jr. to a 30-year term in prison with lifetime supervised release was harmless, and they affirmed his sentence in United States of America v. Randall Ray Fletcher Jr., 12-3104.
 
Fletcher pleaded guilty to five charges of child pornography: Counts I, II, and III alleged the offense took place in 2002; Count IV alleged the offense occurred between November 2004 and July 2006; and Count V alleged the offense occurred between November 2004 and May 2009. He was sentenced in August 2012, when the Nov. 1, 2011 Sentencing Guidelines were in effect. The District judge grouped Counts II-V together when sentencing Fletcher. The guidelines range for all of the counts, when combined with his criminal history category of IV, was life imprisonment. That exceeded the statutory maximum for all of the offenses, so the judge sentenced Fletcher to 240 months on Count I and an aggregate of 240 months on the rest of the counts, to be served concurrently.

Fletcher appeals, claiming he should have been sentenced under previous versions of the sentencing guidelines because he committed the crimes prior to when the 2011 version took effect. He argued this is a violation of the ex post facto clause. The previous versions of the sentencing guidelines were not as severe.

“[T]he application of the newer, harsher version of the guidelines to grouped offenses that straddle an amendment poses no ex post facto problem because the grouping guidelines together with one book rule provide adequate notice to defendants that they will face the harsher version of the guidelines if they choose to continue a course of conduct after the guidelines are amended,” Judge Ilana Rovner wrote.

Counts II through V were grouped together at sentencing and Fletcher did not object to that, the judge pointed out.

After looking at Count I, the judges decided that any error related to Count I is harmless. The earlier version of the guidelines would give the count, when factoring in his criminal history category of IV, a sentencing range of 292-365 months. The low end of this range exceeds statutory maximum, just as it did under the District Court’s calculation under the 2011 guidelines. As a result, the statutorily authorized maximum sentence under the 2001 guidelines is the guidelines sentence, which brings it down to 240 months – the same range the District Court calculated under the 2011 guidelines.   

“Because the court was constrained by the statutory maximum under either version of the guidelines, any error in calculating the range for Count I could not have affected the District Court’s choice of a sentence and thus any possible error was harmless,” she wrote.
 

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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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