Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, March 07, 2014

Louissant: Jones violation requires resentencing

In U.S. v. Louissant, No. 13-11621 (March 7, 2014) (unpublished), the Court found that after pronouncing sentence, the district court failed to elicit objections as required by U.S. v. Jones, and therefore vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing. During its imposition of sentence, the district court announced that it was imposing a life sentence on Louissant based in part on “the evidence at trial.” Because Louissant pled guilty, this reference to “evidence at trial” must have referred to evidence presented at the trial of Louissant’s co-conspirator. Louissant had no opportunity to rebut that evidence – some of this evidence was never discussed at sentencing nor contained in the PSI. This evidence was therefore considered by the district court in violation of U.S. v. Castellanos. The Court rejected the government’s argument that the defendant in effect had an opportunity to object, as evidenced by defense counsel asking “Your Honor, may I preserve [Louissant’s] objection for the record.” This objection merely ensured that previously raised objections were preserved, while Jones is designed to afford the defense an opportunity to raise new objections that have arisen since the defense last had an opportunity to object.