What part of “not to be presumed reasonable” don’t you understand?
That appeared to be the question the U.S. Supreme Court had for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today in reversing and remanding a 360-month sentence imposed on a drug defendant.
The case of Lawrence Nelson was one of those the Supreme Court remanded for reconsideration in light of its decision in Rita v. U.S. holding that the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines create no presumption of reasonableness.
The 4th Circuit considered Rita and affirmed the sentence because the trial judge had not treated the guidelines as mandatory.
“That is true, but beside the point,” the high court said in its per curiam order. “The Guidelines are not only not mandatory on sentencing courts; they are not to be presumed reasonable. We think is it plain from the comments of the sentencing judge that he did apply a presumption of reasonableness to Nelson’s Guidelines range. Under our recent precedents that, constitutes error.”