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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit issues two today, neither from Indiana

In Barnett, James v. Ameren Corp, Judge Kanne writes:

In this case we are presented with the “much-litigated issue” of retired employees’ rights to health-care benefits from a former employer. The plaintiffs are retired employees of defendant Ameren Corporation. In the district court, they argued a trial was necessary on their claim of lifetime entitlement to health benefits from Ameren and that class certification was proper. The district court denied class certification and granted summary judgment for Ameren. We affirm.
In USA v. Boscarino, Nick S., a sentencing appeal, Judge Easterbrook notes:
Boscarino’s appellate lawyer has pursued almost every contention that trial counsel raised and lost. The result is that none of the issues has been developed in depth, and strong contentions (if any) have been buried under anemic ones. “Experienced advocates since time beyond memory have emphasized the importance of winnowing out weaker arguments on appeal and focusing on one central issue if possible, or at most on a few key issues.” Jones v. Barnes, 463 U.S. 745, 751-52 (1983). We discuss only three of the contentions; the rest have been considered but are too feeble to call for exposition.
The opinion concludes:
If the national norm for first offenders who gain $275,000 or so by fraud is a sentence in the range of 33 to 41 months, then system-wide sentencing disparity will increase if Boscarino’s sentence is reduced so that it comes closer to Aulenta’s. Instead of one low sentence, there will be two low sentences. But why should one culprit receive a lower sentence than some otherwise-similar offender, just because the first is “lucky” enough to have a confederate turn state’s evidence? Yet that is Boscarino’s position, which has neither law nor logic to commend it.

Sentencing disparities are at their ebb when the Guidelines are followed, for the ranges are themselves designed to treat similar offenders similarly. That was the main goal of the Sentencing Reform Act. The more out-of-range sentences that judges impose after Booker, the more disparity there will be. A sentence within a properly ascertained range therefore cannot be treated as unreasonable by reference to §3553(a)(6). AFFIRMED

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 8, 2006 01:34 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions