US v. William Harris
UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. WILLIAM FELTON HARRIS, Defendant - Appellant.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, at Wilmington. James C. Fox, Senior District Judge. (5:08-cr-00083-F-1)
June 15, 2009
July 10, 2009
Before MOTZ, KING, and SHEDD, Circuit Judges.
Affirmed in part; vacated and remanded in part by unpublished per curiam opinion.
Thomas P. McNamara, Federal Public Defender, Stephen C. Gordon, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant. George E. B. Holding, United States Attorney, J. Gaston B. Williams, Assistant United States Attorney, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
PER CURIAM: William Felton Harris pled guilty to possession of a firearm (2006). by a He felon, in violation a of 18 of U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) months'
imprisonment. failed to
On appeal, Harris contends the district court consider his ties the to arguments family made and during did not
adequately explain its rationale for the sentence imposed. We review a sentence for reasonableness under an
abuse-of-discretion standard. 586, 597 (2007). of both the Id. In determining
Gall v. United States, 128 S. Ct.
This review requires appellate consideration and substantive reasonableness of a
reasonable, we first assess whether the district court properly calculated the defendant's advisory guideline range. 596-97. range Id. at
A sentence within the properly calculated guideline may be afforded an appellate presumption of
reasonableness. 2462 (2007).
Rita v. United States, 127 S. Ct. 2456, 2459, We then determine whether the district court
failed to consider the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) (2006) factors and any arguments presented by the parties, selected a sentence
based on "clearly erroneous facts," or failed to sufficiently explain the selected sentence. Gall, 128 S. Ct. at 597. 2
When rendering a sentence, the district court "must make an individualized assessment based on the facts presented." That is, the sentencing court must apply the relevant § 3553(a) factors to the specific circumstances of the case before it. Such individualized treatment is necessary "to consider every convicted person as an individual and every case as a unique study in the human failings that sometimes mitigate, sometimes magnify, the crime and the punishment to ensue." United States Gall, v. Carter, S. 564 Ct. F.3d at 325, 328 (4th Cir. 2009)
(quoting omitted). "state in
Under Carter, the sentencing judge is required to open court the particular reasons supporting its
chosen sentence." omitted).
Id. (internal quotation marks and citation
In so doing, the district court must "`set forth
enough to satisfy the appellate court that he has considered the parties' arguments and has a reasoned basis for exercising his own legal decisionmaking authority.'" Ct. at 2468). Finally, assuming no procedural infirmity, we review the substantive reasonableness of the sentence, "taking into Id. (quoting Rita, 127 S.
account the `totality of the circumstances, including the extent of any variance from the Guidelines range.'" United States v.
Pauley, 511 F.3d 468, 473 (4th Cir. 2007) (quoting Gall, 128 S. Ct. at 597). When reviewing the district court's application of
the sentencing guidelines, this court reviews findings of fact for clear error and questions of law de novo. United States v.
Osborne, 514 F.3d 377, 387 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 128 S. Ct. 2525 (2008). It is clear from the record that the district court correctly Harris calculated not of Harris's advisory guidelines However, Harris's range, despite and the
sentence may be afforded, we conclude that Harris's sentence is procedurally unreasonable. The district court failed to state
the reasons supporting Harris's sentence, or otherwise indicate that it "considered the parties' arguments and ha[d] a reasoned basis for exercising [its] own legal decisionmaking authority." Rita, 127 S. Ct. at 2468; see also Carter, 564 F.3d at 330. Harris's attorney gave a lengthy statement regarding Harris's close family ties and the importance of family in
Harris's successful rehabilitation. court's explanation for the
Despite this, the district sentence was wholly
conclusory: range] as
"The court has considered [the advisory guideline well as other relevant factors set forth in the
advisory sentencing guidelines and those set forth in 18 United States Code Section 3553(a)." J.A. 33. Thus, the court failed
to indicate what factors in particular supported the sentence, and the manner in which they did so. the court did not give Harris the In neglecting this step, individualized assessment
required by Carter.
Similarly, the judge made no reference to 4
the arguments made by Harris's counsel during sentencing, and gave no indication that such arguments were considered. Thus,
because "the record here does not demonstrate that the district court conducted . . . an [individualized] assessment and so does not reveal why the district court deemed the sentence it imposed appropriate, reasonable." we cannot hold the sentence procedurally
Carter, 564 F.3d at 330.
Accordingly, while we affirm Harris's conviction, we vacate the sentence imposed by the district court and remand for resentencing. We dispense with oral argument because the facts
and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before the court and further argument would not aid the
decisional process. AFFIRMED IN PART; VACATED AND REMANDED IN PART
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