11th Circuit Vacates Above Guidelines Sentence

On October 30, 2017, the 11th Circuit vacated and remanded a 60-month sentence in United States v. Mathews.  In Mathews, the defendant, a VA nurse, altered medical records to cover up his lack of care for a veteran recovering from surgery.  The veteran ultimately died as a result.  The defendant pleaded guilty.  While on pretrial release, the defendant had tested positive for cocaine.  As a result, at sentencing, the district court believed it did not have the discretion to award a three-level downward adjustment for acceptance of responsibility.  The 11th Circuit found this to be error.  While a positive drug test could serve as grounds for denying a downward adjustment for acceptance of responsibility, it does not preclude a judge from doing so (in this case, the defendant had 18 other clean tests).  The 11th Circuit, however, suggested that if the district court had said it would have imposed an above-Guidelines sentence of 60 months regardless of any Guidelines calculation errors, then it would have likely affirmed the sentenced under a harmless error standard. https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca11/16-11191/16-11191-2017-10-30.html
0 0 votes
Article Rating

Mark Allenbaugh serves as President and Chief Research Officer of SentencingStats.com, Inc.. He is a former staff attorney for the U.S. Sentencing Commission, and a co-editor of "Sentencing, Sanctions, and Corrections: Federal and State Law, Policy, and Practice" (2nd ed., Foundation Press, 2002). Mark is widely regarded as a national expert in Federal sentencing guidelines, analysis and strategy.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

Announcing the
Amendment 821 Calculator

We’ve launched a free Amendment 821 Sentence Reduction Calculator. The calculator helps defendants and legal professionals quickly calculate an amended sentence range for qualified defendants in seconds. 

amendment 821 resentencing reduction calculator