Supreme Court Decides to Hear Acquitted Conduct Case
Many of you have been waiting to hear if McClinton v. United States would be heard by the Supreme Court. On June 30, 2023 we learned that the Supreme Court declined to grant certiorari.
The White House’s website indicates the following about what certiorari is:
In almost all instances, the Supreme Court does not hear appeals as a matter of right; instead, parties must petition the Court for a writ of certiorari. It is the Court’s custom and practice to “grant cert” if four of the nine Justices decide that they should hear the case. Of the approximately 7,500 requests for certiorari filed each year, the Court usually grants cert to fewer than 150. These are typically cases that the Court considers sufficiently important to require their review; a common example is the occasion when two or more of the federal courts of appeals have ruled differently on the same question of federal law.
Here, the court issued a statement denying certiorari for the McClinton case. As you may remember, McClinton was acquitted of a case involving the death of his friend and convicted of a robbery of a pharmacy. At sentencing, the court considered the killing, raising McClinton’s guideline range. McClinton was sentenced to 19 years in prison.
Several justices made statements on the denial of cert. Here is a portion of Justice Sotomayor’s statement:
“The Sentencing Commission, which is responsible for the Sentencing Guidelines, has announced that it will resolve questions around acquitted-conduct sentencing in the coming year. If the Commission does not act expeditiously or chooses not to act, however, this Court may need to take up the constitutional issues presented.”
Similarly, Justice Kavanaugh issued the following, which Gorsuch and Barrett joined:
As JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR explains, the Court’s denial of certiorari today should not be misinterpreted. The use of acquitted conduct to alter a defendant’s Sentencing Guidelines range raises important questions. But the Sentencing Commission is currently considering the issue. It is appropriate for this Court to wait for the Sentencing Commission’s determination before the Court decides whether to grant certiorari in a case involving the use of acquitted conduct.
The sentencing commission tabled the potential acquitted conduct amendment and will presumably take it up in their next term.