U.S. v. Pearson
When ruling on the substantive reasonableness of a sentence, the 2nd Circuit considers the length of the sentence to decide whether it can be located within the range of permissible decisions. On Dec. 30, 2011, the defendant, Anthony Pearson, allegedly attempted to purchase marijuana from a purported drug dealer. Allegedly, although Pearson paid, the dealer refused to give Pearson the marijuana and approached Pearson in a "menacing manner," and Pearson pulled out a pistol, fired it in the direction of a residential building and discarded the loaded pistol in a backyard. The police pursued Pearson, who fled into a stranger's apartment. Pearson pled guilty to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 United States Code §922(g)(1). The District Court applied a two-level upward departure, because of the seriousness of the offense, and sentenced Pearson to 64 months in prison. Pearson appealed to the 2nd Circuit and argued that the District Court failed to give proper consideration to mitigating factors. The record established that the District Court, Bryant, J., considered the defendant's mitigating factors and failed to assign significant weight to the defendant's personal history or mental illness. Pearson did not prove that the District Court failed to consider the 18 U.S.C. §3553(a) factors. Pearson also argued that "a sentence closer to the bottom end of the guideline range . . . would have been appropriate" because "his personal trajectory is not one of increasing violence and disdain for others so much as mental and institutional drift." The 2nd Circuit reviewed Pearson's claims under a deferential, abuse-of-discretion standard. Pearson already had four felony convictions, including two for violent robberies. The 64-month sentence was within the range of reasonableness. The 2nd Circuit affirmed the decision of the District Court. Gary Weinberger and Terence Ward represented the defendant. Jonathan Freimann, Sandra Glover and Deirdre Daly represented the government.