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Sentencing – Acceptance of responsibility

Sentencing – Acceptance of responsibility

A routine showing of acceptance of responsibility does not negate a nontrivial obstruction of justice.

“Only the Ninth Circuit has gone so far as to hold that a routine showing of acceptance of responsibility can wipe out a nontrivial obstruction of justice: ‘we hold the relevant inquiry for
determining if a case is an extraordinary case [warranting the acceptance of responsibility discount despite an obstruction of justice] is whether the defendant’s obstructive conduct is not
inconsistent with the defendant’s acceptance of responsibility. Cases in which obstruction is not inconsistent with an acceptance of responsibility arise when a defendant, although
initially attempting to conceal the crime, eventually accepts responsibility for the crime and abandons all attempts to obstruct justice.’ United States v. Hopper, 27 F.3d 378, 383 (9th
Cir. 1994) (emphasis in original). The obstruction of justice in Hopper was not trivial. The defendant had ‘burned the negotiable instruments obtained and the disguises used in the
robbery,’ and the day after an accomplice’s arrest had ‘attempted to buy a false alibi for $20,000, and he hid robbery proceeds in a storage unit, later moving them to another unit.’ Id. at

“We have rejected the Ninth Circuit’s position, remarking in United States v. Buckley, supra, 192 F.3d at 711, that ‘the fact that a defendant having done everything he could to obstruct
justice runs out of tricks, throws in the towel, and pleads guilty does not make him a prime candidate for rehabilitation.’”


12-2142 U.S. v. Hacha

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Castillo, J., Posner, J.

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