501 F.3d 851 (7th Cir. 2007), 07-1215, United States v. Ross

Docket Nº07-1215.
Citation501 F.3d 851
Party NameUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. William ROSS III, Defendant-Appellant.
Case DateSeptember 11, 2007
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 851

501 F.3d 851 (7th Cir. 2007)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

William ROSS III, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 07-1215.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

September 11, 2007

Argued Aug. 7, 2007.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 03 CR 689-20-Joan B. Gottschall, Judge.

Page 852

Matthew Getter (argued), Office of the United States Attorney, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Sheldon Halpern (argued), Royal Oak, MI, for Defendant-Appellant.

Before BAUER, KANNE, and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM.

William Ross challenges his 78-month sentence for his role in a conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and marijuana. See 21 U.S.C.§§ 846, 841(a)(1). Because it appears from the record that the district court improperly applied a presumption of reasonableness for a within-guidelines sentence, we vacate the sentence and remand for resentencing.

Ross, along with 16 codefendants, was indicted for a drug conspiracy that began in 1995 and lasted until 2003. Two days before trial he pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge (a second count was dropped, although the parties insist that there was no bargain). At the change-of-plea hearing, the district court explained to Ross that it would apply the guidelines to his case and calculate "a range of months within which I am supposed to sentence you." The court added: "I do have the power to give you a different sentence, but I need some kind of good reason to do it. Otherwise I have to give you the guideline sentence."

Before sentencing Ross sought to take advantage of the "safety valve," see 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f); U.S.S.G. § 5C1.2(a), and met with government agents to explain his role in the conspiracy. During that interview Ross admitted that seven times between 1995 and 1997 he received drugs from his confederates; one transaction involved about 20 pounds of marijuana and others a kilogram or more of cocaine. But after that, he said, he had no more contact with other members of the conspiracy until 2002, when he called one of his confederates to inquire about the price of cocaine but did not obtain any.

At sentencing the parties agreed that Ross's truthfulness during this safety-valve interview made him eligible for a sentence below the statutory minimum. They also agreed that the appropriate guidelines imprisonment range was 78 to 97 months. Ross argued that the district court should sentence him below this range based on his disclosures to the government and his short-lived involvement in the drug conspiracy. According to the probation officer, Ross had maintained steady, legitimate employment at a McDonald's, a car wash, and his own ultimately unsuccessful businesses once he stopped dealing drugs with his confederates. For its part, the government asked the court to sentence Ross within the guidelines range, arguing that his cooperation already was accounted for by the safety valve and stressing the significant quantity of cocaine and marijuana he received.

When announcing the sentence, the district court noted that it could not see "any reason why the guideline sentence isn't appropriate in this case." Justifying the sentence imposed, the court stated:

The fact that I may think that the harm that's done by a sentence like this in terms of Mr. Ross' family members and his children may be greater than is necessary to deal with the drug problem, that doesn't matter, because it isn't my judgment that rules on that. It's Congress' judgment. All I can do is accept that we're dealing with a regime which punishes people very severely for dealing

Page 853

drugs, there were a lot of drugs in this case, and give Mr. Ross the lowest sentence that's possible in recognition of the fact that he's tried to work legitimately, to the extent he's been able to do that, that he's got a very close family, that he's got kids, that he's done right by them, and...

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19 practice notes
  • Death by a thousand cases: after Booker, Rita, and Gall, the Guidelines still violate the Sixth Amendment.
    • United States
    • William and Mary Law Review Vol. 50 Nbr. 1, October 2008
    • 1 Octubre 2008
    ...range after Booker. Rita v. United States, 127 S. Ct. 2456, 2487 (2007) (Souter, J., dissenting). (143.) See, e.g., United States v. Ross, 501 F.3d 851, 852 (7th Cir. 2007); United States v. Conlan, 500 F.3d 1167, 1168 (10th Cir. 2007); United States v. Wilms, 495 F.3d 277, 279 (6th Cir. 20......
  • 520 F.3d 699 (7th Cir. 2008), 07-1176, United States v. Sanders
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 21 Marzo 2008
    ...but I look to the guidelines in their advisory capacity." That is a proper statement of the court's role. United States v. Ross, 501 F.3d 851, 853 (7th Cir. Page 703 Sanders fares no better in his final claim that the court failed to give an adequate statement of reasons under 18 U.S.C......
  • United States v. Warren, 010620 OHNDC, 1:17-cr-00122
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 6th Circuit United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • 6 Enero 2020
    ...945, 949 (N.D. Ohio 2008) (quoting Rita v. United States, 551 U.S. 338, 351 (2007) and citing United States v. Ross, 501 F.3d 851, 853 (7th Cir. 2007)). III. Analysis 1. Advisory Sentence Guideline Computation To begin the advisory sentencing guideline computat......
  • United States v. Lightning, 110419 OHNDC, 4:19-cr-00233
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 6th Circuit United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • 4 Noviembre 2019
    ...945, 949 (N.D. Ohio 2008) (quoting Rita v. United States, 551 U.S. 338, 351 (2007) and citing United States v. Ross, 501 F.3d 851, 853 (7th Cir. III. Analysis 1. Advisory Sentence Guideline Computation To begin the advisory sentencing guideline computation, thi......
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18 cases
  • 520 F.3d 699 (7th Cir. 2008), 07-1176, United States v. Sanders
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 21 Marzo 2008
    ...but I look to the guidelines in their advisory capacity." That is a proper statement of the court's role. United States v. Ross, 501 F.3d 851, 853 (7th Cir. Page 703 Sanders fares no better in his final claim that the court failed to give an adequate statement of reasons under 18 U.S.C......
  • United States v. Warren, 010620 OHNDC, 1:17-cr-00122
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 6th Circuit United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • 6 Enero 2020
    ...945, 949 (N.D. Ohio 2008) (quoting Rita v. United States, 551 U.S. 338, 351 (2007) and citing United States v. Ross, 501 F.3d 851, 853 (7th Cir. 2007)). III. Analysis 1. Advisory Sentence Guideline Computation To begin the advisory sentencing guideline computat......
  • United States v. Lightning, 110419 OHNDC, 4:19-cr-00233
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 6th Circuit United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • 4 Noviembre 2019
    ...945, 949 (N.D. Ohio 2008) (quoting Rita v. United States, 551 U.S. 338, 351 (2007) and citing United States v. Ross, 501 F.3d 851, 853 (7th Cir. III. Analysis 1. Advisory Sentence Guideline Computation To begin the advisory sentencing guideline computation, thi......
  • 517 F.3d 996 (8th Cir. 2008), 06-4191, United States v. Marston
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • 10 Marzo 2008
    .... . . I would have given him less of a sentence if I thought that I had the ability to do so"). Similarly, in United States v. Ross, 501 F.3d 851 (7th Cir. 2007) (per curium), the Seventh Circuit reversed a sentence where the district court expressed concern that the Guideline range wa......
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