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Sentencing – Acceptance of responsibility


Sentencing – Acceptance of responsibility


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Acceptance of responsibility

A district court must grant a motion by the prosecutor for an additional one-level reduction for timely giving notice of intent to plead guilty under U.S.S.G. 3E1.1(b).
Vacated and Remanded.

“§ 3E1.1(b) uses mandatory language in instructing the district court how to calculate the offense level when the government has made the necessary motion. This, in our view, is a textual argument that cuts against the Fifth Circuit’s approach. Although we are not charged with maintaining consistency in the Fifth Circuit’s law, we note that Williamson is in considerable tension with other cases from that circuit, including Tello, 9 F.3d at 1124, and Velgar-Vivero, 8 F.3d at 242. We have already explained why we do not regard Application Notes 5 and 6 as a source of support for the Williamson result; there is no need to repeat that discussion here. Finally, Williamson seems to proceed from the mistaken premise that if the district court is directed by the guidelines to compute a certain offense level, then that is the level within which the defendant must be sentenced. We would have thought that seven years after United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), was decided, this fallacy would have been put to rest. Over and over, the Supreme Court has emphasized that district courts have discretion over sentences, so long as they begin with a proper calculation of the recommended sentencing range under the guidelines and they then take proper account of the sentencing considerations outlined in § 3553(a). See, e.g., Spears v. United States, 555 U.S. 261, 263 (2009); Kimbrough v. United States, 552 U.S. 85, 91 (2007); Gall, supra. Even within the more limited context of guidelines computations, the district judge is responsible for the most important input into the acceptance of responsibility decision: whether the defendant is entitled to the first two levels pursuant to § 3E1.1(a).”

Vacated and Remanded.

11-2616 U.S. v. Mount

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Magnus-Stinson, J., Wood, J.

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