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Copyright (c) 2005 Seton Hall University School of Law
Seton Hall Circuit Review


Fall, 2005

2 Seton Hall Cir. Rev. 261


Circuit Review Staff


Post-Booker: Plain Error Review -- United States v. Gonzalez-Huerta, 403 F.3d 727 (10th Cir. 2005)

Since the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Booker, 543 U.S.    , 125 S. Ct. 738 (2005), courts are no longer required to impose a sentence that falls within the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines ("the Guidelines"), but must only consider the Guidelines in determining sentences. In this post-Booker appeal, the issue was whether the lower court's mandatory application of the Guidelines constituted reversible error when the lower court relied solely on the defendant's prior convictions and admitted facts in determining his maximum sentence. Because the issue was not raised below, the court reviewed the claim under a plain error standard, which requires "(1) error, (2) that is plain, which (3) affects substantial rights, and which (4) seriously affects the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings." Id. at 732. The court held that to satisfy the third prong, the defendant must show that "the error . . . affected the outcome of the district court proceedings." Id. In doing so, the court declined to adopt the approach of the 2nd and 7th Circuits, which provide for limited remands to determine whether the district court would issue a lower sentence. Further, the court refused to collapse the third and fourth prong analyses, which several other courts of appeals have done.

The appellant argued that he bears the burden under the third prong to show that his substantial rights ...
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