Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Docampo: 270 month sentence on 18 year old is reasonable

In U.S. v. Docampo, No. 08-10698 (June 15, 2009), the Court (2-1, Barkett, J., dissenting in part) affirmed as "reasonable" a sentence of 210 months, plus a 60 month consecutive sentence, for cocaine trafficking and gun conviction convictions.
The Court agreed with Docampo that the district court erred in admitting the hearsay statement of an accomplice’s girlfriend about a threatening phone call that Docampo made to the girlfriend. But the Court found the error harmless, in light of other evidence.
The Court rejected a sentence manipulation claim based on Docampo’s age at the time of the government sting. The Court noted that Docampo was an adult when the sting occurred.
The Court also rejected the challenge to the failure to give Docampo a minor role sentence adjustment, finding that the district court was justified in using his possession of a firearm as basis for denying minor role.
The Court affirmed the sentence as reasonable, noting the district court’s comment about the "upsurge" of crime by young persons. The Court noted that cooperating co-defendants had received sentences of 180 months and 60 months. Two juveniles were prosecuted as adults in state court and received sentences of probation. But disparity is permitted for defendant who cooperate with the government, and disparity between state and federal sentences is not a goal of 3553(a).
[Barkett, J, dissenting, found the sentence "procedurally unreasonable," because the district court did not adequately explain its decision, other than stating that the sentence was needed for "general deterrence." The district court did not adequately grapple with the drastic disparity among the accomplices’ sentences. The extreme disparity also made the sentence substantively unreasonable, because excessive.]