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It was plain error for a district court to sentence a drug offender to an extended prison term for violating the terms of her supervised release without giving a full statement of reasons for imposing the sentence, the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. The 2d Circuit said that Myrisa Lewis’ “substantial rights” were violated when Judge Deborah Batts of the Southern District of New York imposed a two-year prison sentence without giving a detailed explanation of why it exceeded the recommended sentence outlined in a nonbinding policy statement of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The circuit in U.S. v. Lewis, No. 04-4105-cr, also said that the “statement of reasons” by a judge, required under 18 U.S.C. 3553(c) need not be as specific as the statements that were required of judges who departed from the sentencing guidelines’ range prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Booker, 543 U.S. 160 (2005). Nonetheless, the circuit said a sentencing judge acting in the context of revocation of supervised release must still give some reasons for departing from the range set forth in policy statements. In Booker, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the part of the sentencing guidelines that required judges to impose a sentence beyond the normal range was invalid, a ruling that effectively rendered the guidelines “advisory.” Booker also said that federal appellate courts would henceforth review the sentences imposed by district court judges for “reasonableness.” But as the 2d Circuit noted in U.S. v. Crosby, 397 F.3d 103 (2005), Booker left Section 3553(c) “unimpaired.”

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