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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Two Indiana cases today from the 7th Circuit

In Hart, Jeffrey v. Fed Ex Ground (ND Ind., Robert L. Miller, Chief Judge), a 14-page opinion, Circuit Judge Wood writes:

After Jeffrey Hart filed suit against FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. (“FedEx Ground”), in Pennsylvania state court, FedEx Ground removed the case to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, (CAFA), Pub. L. 109-2, 119 Stat. 4 (2005); later, the case found its way to the Northern District of Indiana, where Hart unsuccessfully tried to persuade the district court that this case really belonged back in Pennsylvania state court, under the “home-state controversy” or “local controversy” exceptions to CAFA. Concluding that Hart had the burden of showing that these exceptions applied, the district court denied his motion to remand. Hart appeals, see 28 U.S.C. § 1453(c), asking us to resolve which party has the burden of proving whether these exceptions to CAFA apply. Although we consider the question close, we conclude that the structure of the statute logically shifts the burden of persuasion to the plaintiff to show that the general rule does not apply. We granted the petition for the appeal in an order dated June 30, 2006, and we now affirm.
In USA v. Jointer, John W. (SD Ind., Larry J. McKinney, Chief Judge), an 11-page opinion, Circuit Judge Ripple writes:
On October 7, 2005, Mr. Jointer pleaded guilty to distribution of and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base (“crack”). See 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B)(iii). He was sentenced to 87 months’ imprisonment, a term below the advisory guideline range. The Government now appeals Mr. Jointer’s sentence; it submits that the district court exceeded its authority by substituting a 20:1 crack-to-powder cocaine sentencing ratio rather than the 100:1 ratio found in the United States Sentencing Guidelines. The Government further claims that the sentence is unreasonable. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we reverse the judgment of the district court and remand the case for resentencing. * * *

Because the district court did not follow the appropriate methodology in sentencing Mr. Jointer, and because that error certainly can not be characterized as harmless error, we must remand the case for resentencing. We have stated that, although the Guidelines are no longer mandatory, “errors in their application remain relevant,” United States v. Skoczen, 405 F.3d 537, 549 (7th Cir. 2005), and such errors may require us to remand for resentencing, see United States v. Chamness, 435 F.3d 724, 726 (7th Cir. 2006). The Mandatory Sentencing Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3742(f)(1), requires resentencing when a sentence was imposed “as a result of an incorrect application of the sentencing guidelines.” This provision of the Mandatory Sentencing Act survives Booker, and thus errors in the Guidelines application must be remanded for resentencing even post-Booker. See United States v. Scott, 405 F.3d 615, 617 (7th Cir. 2005).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 9, 2006 02:06 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions