United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Sentencing — crack cocaine
Where the district court was aware of its authority to depart from the crack cocaine sentencing guidelines, but did not, there was no procedural error. “The district court commented on the drug-quantity ratio in direct response to Matthews’s argument that the court should follow the lead of other judges in the district and impose a below-guidelines sentence based on a 1:1 crack-to-powder ratio. The judge declined to do so, deferring instead to the 18:1 policy adopted in the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 and the corresponding amendments to the guidelines. Although the judge adopted a highly deferential stance toward the judgment of Congress and the Sentencing Commission, there is no indication that he misunderstood his discretion to use a different ratio. Matthews’s argument to the contrary is implausible this far removed from United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), Kimbrough v. United States, 552 U.S. 85, 109 (2007), and Spears v. United States, 555 U.S. 261 (2009). Moreover, the judge’s decision to adhere to the ratio endorsed by Congress and the Commission does not make the resulting within-guidelines sentence unreasonable merely because other judges in the district exercised their discretion to use a different ratio. A sentence disparity that results from another judge’s policy disagreement with the guidelines is not ‘unwarranted’ under § 3553(a)(6).”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Randa, J., Sykes, J.