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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. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  2. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

  3. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  4. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  5. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

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