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UNITED STATES v. BOOKER, 543 U.S. ---

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UNITED STATES v. BOOKER

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT

No. 04-104.Argued October 4, 2004--Decided January 12, 2005*

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the sentence authorized by the jury verdict in respondent Booker's drug case was 210-to-262 months in prison. At the sentencing hearing, the judge found additional facts by a preponderance of the evidence. Because these findings mandated a sentence between 360 months and life, the judge gave Booker a 30-year sentence instead of the 21-year, 10-month, sentence he could have imposed based on the facts proved to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt. The Seventh Circuit held that this application of the Guidelines conflicted with the Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U. S. 466, 490, holding that "[o]ther than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury, and proved beyond a reasonable doubt." Relying on Blakely v. Washington, 542 U. S. ___, the court held that the sentence violated the Sixth Amendment and instructed the District Court either to sentence Booker within the sentencing range supported by the jury's findings or to hold a separate sentencing hearing before a jury. In respondent Fanfan's case, the maximum sentence authorized by the jury verdict under the Guidelines was 78 months in prison. At the sentencing hearing, the District Judge found by a preponderance of the evidence additional facts authorizing a sentence in the 188-to-235-month range, which would have required him to impose a 15- or 16-year sentence instead of the 5 or 6 years authorized by the jury verdict alone. Relying on Blakely's majority opinion, statements in its dissenting opinions, and the Solicitor General's brief in Blakely, the judge concluded that he could not follow the Guidelines and imposed a sentence based solely upon the guilty verdict in the case. The Government filed a notice of appeal in the First Circuit and a petition for certiorari before judgment in this Court.

Held: The judgment of the Court of Appeals in No. 04-104 is affirmed, and the case is remanded. The judgment of the District Court in No. 04-105 is vacated, and the case is remanded.


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