A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

By Burt Rose

The SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES has decided the case of JASON PEPPER, PETITIONER v.
UNITED STATES, No. 09–6822 (3/2/11).

Justice Sotmayor wrote the Opinion, joined by Justices Roberts, SCALIA, KENNEDY, and GINSBURG. Justices BREYER and ALITO joined in part. Justice THOMAS filed a dissenting opinion. Justice KAGAN took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

The Court held that when a defendant’s sentence has been set aside on appeal, a district court at resentencing may consider evidence of the defendant’s postsentencing rehabilitation, and such evidence may, in appropriate cases, support a downward variance from the advisory guidelines range. 18 USC §3742(g)(2), which prohibits a district court at resentencing from imposing a sentence outside the Sentencing Guidelines range except upon a ground it relied upon at the prior sentencing, was invalidated by the Court as being unconstitutional. Nor does the law require a sentencing court to follow a Guideline policy statement that forbids taking account of postsentencing rehabilitation: see Guidelines Manual §5K2.19.

Thus a District Court, when resentencing petitioner after his initial sentence has been set aside on appeal, may consider evidence of petitioner’s rehabilitation since his initial sentencing for a downward variance.

Free legal research available on State and Federal court appointed cases from the Student Research Center. http://www.philadelphiabar.org/page/CJResearch?appNum=4

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