United States v. Harris

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 05-25-2012
  • Case #: 11-10053
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Noonan for the Court; Circuit Judges B. Fletcher and Paez
  • Full Text Opinion

A judge who did not preside over a trial abuses her discretion to proceed with sentencing when that judge is only familiar with the Presentence Investigation Report, and the trial judge’s absence is due to turmoil arising from the shooting of another judge.

William Harris appealed “his sentence of 188 months following his conviction of three counts of assaulting a federal correctional officer.” The judge who sentenced Harris was not the trial judge and was familiar only with the Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) and Harris’s objections to the PSR. The Ninth Circuit noted that a court being “in turmoil” after the fatal shooting of another judge was not a reason under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 25(b)(1) why the “judge who presided at trial cannot perform [the] duties” of sentencing. The Ninth Circuit also noted that a judge who has not read the trial transcript, but has read the PSR and objections to the PSR, is not “sufficiently familiar with the record.” The Ninth Circuit held that “because the absence of the original trial judge was not in accordance with Rule 25(b), and the visiting judge was not sufficiently familiar with the record, the visiting judge abused her discretion by conducting Harris’s sentencing.” VACATED and REMANDED.

Advanced Search