Friday, July 21, 2006

Case Summaries

July 19, 2006, Slip Opinions. One criminal case.

U.S. v. Darren Alan Maurstad, No. 05-3023. (D. South Dakota).
U.S. v. David George Foote, No. 05-3024. (D. South Dakota).
Before Circuit Judges Arnold, John R. Gibson, and Smith. Opinion by Circuit Judge Smith.
PUBLISHED.

Maurstad and Foote (Appellants) pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute. Maurstad appeals his sentence as unreasonable and Foote appeals his sentence claiming it 1) exceeds the statutory maximum, 2) violates the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and 3) violates the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution..
As to Maurstad’s sentence, the District Court found that Maurstad had been committing crimes since "the age of 12 and basically never stopped committing crimes" and, as a result, has "spent the majority of his life in juvenile and adult correctional institutions" essentially "serving life imprisonment on the installment plan." The District Court concluded that Maurstad’s criminal history points did not accurately reflect his criminal lifestyle and did not include points for several of his prior offenses. The record reflects that the District Court "noted the need for Maurstad’s sentence to deter such criminal conduct, protect the public from him, and rehabilitate him." Considering the totality of the circumstances, the District Court decided that a 120-month sentence was reasonable.

The Eighth Circuit held that Marustad’s case is "analogous to" their holdings in Lyons, 2006 WL 1667635, at *2, and Shannon, 414 F.3d at 923-2, therefore his sentence is reasonable.
Appeal dismissed.

As to Foote’s 240 month prison sentence, the advisory Guidelines range was 210 to 262 months imprisonment, with a statutory cap of 240 months imprisonment. The District Court ordered that Foote’s federal sentence begin to run after Foote served 18 months of a 10 year state sentence on a burglary conviction.

The Eighth Circuit clarifies how this sentence "does not exceed the statutory maximum." See U.S. v. Schulte, 436 F.3d 849, 850 (8th Cir. 2006). According to 18 U.S.C. §3584(a), "if a term of imprisonment is imposed on a defendant who is already subject to an undischarged term of imprisonment, the terms may run concurrently or consecutively...". U.S.S.G. § 5G1.3(a) allows sentences to be imposed to run concurrently, partially concurrently, or consecutively with any undischarged term of imprisonment. On this issue, the Eighth Circuit held that the District Court’s order to run a portion of his prison term concurrent, does not affect the 240 months imprisonment for the instant offense.

The Eighth Circuit held that "Foote waived his right to appeal his sentence in his plea agreement with the U.S." "Because Foote’s sentence is with the statutory range, the appeal waiver contained in the plea agreement is enforceable."
Appeal dismissed.

Melissa N. Tessaro, Branch Office Administrative Assistant
Office of the Federal Public Defender
Eastern & Western Districts of Arkansas

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