As I described here and here, the Seventh Circuit has an interesting line of cases that attempt to establish some minimal standards for the way that district judges explain their sentences. Add to that line the court’s decision last week in United States v. Robertson (No. 10-3543). I think that Robertson is the court’s first decision to apply the explanation requirement to a resentencing that occurred after revocation of a defendant’s supervised release.
That the explanation requirement would apply here is perhaps not a given, since, as the court observed, the district judge has even more discretion in this setting than in an original sentencing. (4) The court ruled, however, that the district judge must indeed “say something that enables the appellate court to infer that he considered both [the recommendations of the sentencing guidelines and the statutory sentencing factors].” (4)
In Robertson, the guidelines recommended a term of 12-18 months following the defendant’s revocation for growing marijuana, but the district judge instead imposed a sentence of 34 months. Here is the “explanation” for the sentence that the Seventh Circuit found inadequate: