MOORE v. UNITED STATES
A federal district court convicted James Eric Moore of possessing cocaine base (crack cocaine) with intent to distribute and sentenced him to 188 months in prison and 6 years of supervised release. Mr. Moore appealed arguing the district court improperly sentenced him when it failed to consider the disparate treatment of crack cocaine and powder cocaine in the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed. On appeal, the Supreme Court remanded with instructions for the court of appeals to consider Mr. Moore's case in light of its opinion in Kimbrough v. United States, where it held a judge "may consider the disparity between the Guidelines' treatment of crack and powder cocaine offenses." The court of appeals affirmed once again. It reasoned that the district court was aware it had such discretion, but chose not to exercise it in Mr. Moore's case.
Did the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit err when it presumed the district court was aware of its discretion to consider the disparity between the United States Sentencing Guidelines' treatment of crack and powder cocaine offenses when sentencing Mr. Moore?
Legal provision: United States Sentencing Guidelines
Yes. In a per curiam opinion without argument, the Supreme Court held that the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit erred in presuming the district court knew it had, but chose not to exercise, discretion to consider the disparity between the United States Sentencing Guidelines' treatment of crack and powder cocaine offenses when sentencing Mr. Moore. It found the district court was not aware of this power. The Court reversed the court of appeals and remanded the case with instructions for the trial court to resentence Mr. Moore based on this opinion.