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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ind. Decsions - 7th Circuit decides one today

In USA v. Roderick Sinclair (ND Ind., Miller), a 23-page opinion, Judge Sykes writes:

Sinclair appealed, raising two issues. First, he argues that the district court violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel of his choice by denying a continuance to allow his family to hire a private attorney. Second, he challenges the court’s decision not to group the drug and felon-in-possession counts.

We affirm. The Sixth Amendment entitles a criminal defendant to retain counsel of his choice, see United States v. Gonzalez-Lopez, 548 U.S. 140, 144 (2006), but the trial court has broad discretion in addressing a continuance motion based on the right. The court is entitled to weigh the defendant’s claim against the need to ensure the fair and efficient administration of justice. The judge did that here, and we find no abuse of discretion in his decision to deny the requested continuance.

We also find no error in Sinclair’s sentence. In the ordinary case, the drug and felon-in-possession counts are treated as specific offense characteristics of each other, see U.S.S.G. §§ 2D1.1(b)(1), 2K2.1(b)(6)(B), triggering offense-level enhancements and thus the grouping rule of § 3D1.2(c). But the guidelines specifically provide that enhancements for firearm possession do not apply when the defendant is also convicted of violating § 924(c), which carries a mandatory consecutive sentence. See id. § 2K2.4 cmt. n.4. Because the otherwise applicable offense-characteristic enhancements were not applied here, there was no basis for grouping under § 3D1.2(c).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 21, 2014 06:34 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions