Nelson v. United States

PETITIONER: Lawrence W. Nelson, aka Zikee
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Private Residence on Snider Street

DOCKET NO.: 08-5657
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2006-2009)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 555 US (2009)
GRANTED: Jan 26, 2009
DECIDED: Jan 26, 2009

Facts of the case

Lawrence Nelson was convicted in a federal district court of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine and sentenced to 360 months in prison. On appeal, Mr. Nelson argued that the district court erred in presuming the United States Sentencing Guidelines were reasonable. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit disagreed and affirmed his sentence. The Supreme Court subsequently granted certiorari, vacated Mr. Nelson's sentence, and remanded the case to the Fourth Circuit in consideration of its decision in Rita v. United States. On remand, the Fourth Circuit once again affirmed Mr. Nelson's sentence, reasoning that the district court did not treat the Sentencing Guidelines as mandatory.

Question

Did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit err in rejecting the petitioner's argument that the district court impermissibly applied a presumption of reasonableness to the United States Sentencing Guidelines at his sentencing?