Two takes on “substantive reasonableness” sentencing review

The Sixth Circuit issued two decisions this week that show both the promise and limits of appellate review of in sentencing decisions.1. The standard outcome.The first decision, United States v. Muchow, shows the usual limits that apply in a sentencing appeal.Wesley Muchow pleaded guilty to child-pornography charges (he had 129 images and 4 videos) and faced a sentencing range of 135 to 168 months. He received 135 months. He argued on appeal that this sentence was substantively unreasonable, noting his other law-abiding conduct and that the district court held against him uncharged viewing of child pornography in the past.In affirming, as is typical, the Sixth Circuit emphasized the “significant latitude” afforded to sentencing courts. It explained: "Where a district court acted reasonably in imposing a sentence, this Court must affirm its decision."As an aside, two notables: (1) This is Judge Readler’s first authored opinion. (2) It is unusual to…

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