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United States v. Griffin

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

May 21, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
COREY GRIFFIN AND TIMOTHY ALLISON, Defendants-Appellants

Argued April 6, 2015

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 1:10-cr-00741 -- John W. Darrah, Judge.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee (14-1508): Debra Riggs Bonamici, Attorney, Matthew F. Madden, Attorney, Office of The United States Attorney, Chicago, IL.

For Corey Griffin, Defendant - Appellant (14-1508): Scott J. Frankel, Attorney, Frankel & Cohen, Chicago, IL; Joshua B. Adams, Attorney, Law Offices of Joshua B. Adams, P.C., Chicago, IL.

For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee (14-2002): Debra Riggs Bonamici, Attorney, Matthew F. Madden, Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Chicago, IL.

For TIMOTHY ALLISON, Defendant - Appellant (14-2002): Daniel J. Hillis, Attorney, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Springfield, IL; Thomas W. Patton, Attorney, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Peoria, IL.

Before POSNER and SYKES, Circuit Judges, and SIMON, Chief District Court Judge.[*]

OPINION

Page 891

Simon, Chief District Judge.

Corey Griffin and Timothy Allison were charged with federal drug offenses arising from an investigation of drug trafficking by the Traveling Vice Lords street gang which operated on Chicago's West Side. Griffin, Allison and their four co-defendants were part of the operation that sold heroin at two locations in Chicago--one at the intersection of Christiana and Chicago Avenues and the other at the intersection of St. Louis and Ohio Avenues. Allison and Griffin each pled guilty to conspiring between June 2008 and November 2010 to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute 1 kilogram or more of heroin. Allison was sentenced to a prison term of 288 months. Griffin received a sentence of 210 months. Their appeal raises three sentencing issues.

The government concedes that the district court committed reversible error at each sentencing by imposing discretionary supervised release conditions without explaining why the conditions for each defendant were reasonably related to the sentencing factors of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). See United States v. Siegel, 753 F.3d 705, 717 (7th Cir. 2014). " [T]he general rule with regard to conditions of supervised release now requires that they are to fit the peculiar circumstances of the defendant being sentenced." United States v. Sewell, 780 F.3d 839, 852 (7th Cir. 2015). " And being part of the sentence, the imposition of conditions of supervised release is subject to the further requirements that

Page 892

'the court, at the time of sentencing, shall state in open court the reasons for its imposition of the particular sentence,' ... and 'in determining the length of the term and the conditions of supervised release, shall consider the factors set forth in' eight enumerated subsections of section 3553(a)." United States v. Thompson, 777 F.3d 368, 373 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing 18 U.S.C. § § 3553(c), 3583(c)). We agree with the parties that the case must be reversed and remanded for resentencing so that the sentencing court can make a record of the required considerations and findings.

Allison contends that due process was compromised when the sentencing judge pronounced Allison's sentence, then conferred with a probation officer and revised the prison term. No legal error is demonstrated, much less one of constitutional dimension. What occurred is that the judge misspoke (saying 240 months when he meant 24 years, which equals 288 months) but caught himself, consulted with the probation officer, and corrected his pronouncement of sentence. The record reflects that the judge's realization of his mistake occurred before he spoke to the probation officer. The judge announced even before their confab: " I'm going to amend that term of imprisonment." Allison Sentencing Tr., 83, Apr. 23, 2014, ECF No. 21-2. After the sidebar discussion, the judge continued: " I misspoke," explaining that " It was my intention and is my intention to sentence Mr. Allison to a term of imprisonment for 24 years. That would result in a sentence of 288 months." Id. There is nothing to suggest that the probation officer engaged in any advocacy off the record from which the defense was unfairly excluded, or that the lengthy explanation the judge had previously ...


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