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Man argues the sentencing guidelines were applied incorrectly

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A Wisconsin man who used a stolen Indiana driver’s license to obtain a passport had his sentence affirmed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals which held certain provisions in the sentencing guidelines should be applied differently depending on the circumstances.

Fairly W. Earls was found guilty in July 2011 of making a false statement on a passport application, aggravated identity theft and knowingly transferring a stolen identification document. The U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division sentenced him to 36 months on counts one and three with a consecutive sentence of 24 months on count two.   

Earls appealed his sentence, in part, on the grounds that the District Court erroneously calculated his sentencing guideline range. In United States of America v. Fairly W. Earls, 11-3347, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.  

Based on Earls’ three-count conviction, the Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) recommended that his total offense level be set at 15. The report concluded that because Earls had used a passport in the commission of a felony, namely bail jumping, the court should apply 2L2.2(c)(1)(A), which calls for the application of 2X1.1 (Attempt, Solicitation or Conspiracy).

In turn, 2X1.1 of the sentencing guidelines then directs the court to apply the base level from the guidelines for the substantive offense and add any adjustments for intended conduct that can be established with reasonable certainty. The District Court concluded that Earls’ offense of using his passport to jump bail most closely correlated to Sentencing Guidelines 2J1.6 (Failure to Appear by Defendant). When applied, 2J1.6 brought the offense level to 15.

Earls argued that the cross-reference was done in error because of the language in Application Note 2 of 2X1.1, which defines “substantive offense” to mean that the defendant was convicted of soliciting, attempting or conspiring to commit. He contended the District Court erred when it applied 2X1.1 because at the time he was sentenced, he had not been convicted for failure to appear in Wisconsin state court.

The 7th Circuit ruled the commentary in Application Note 2 does not apply when 2X1.1 is reached by cross-reference from 2L2.2(c)(1)(A) because it is rare that a defendant will have already been convicted of “soliciting, attempt, or conspiring to commit” an underlying offense at the time of sentencing. The court concluded that Application Note 2 was “logically intended” to be applied when 2X1.1 is applied directly, not when it is reached through cross-reference from 2L2.2(c)(1)(A).
 

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  1. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  3. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  5. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

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