Supreme Court Allows Consideration of Post-Sentencing Rehabilitation

The Supreme Court ruled today, in Pepper v. United States (opinion here) that when a defendant's sentence has been set aside, the court, in resentencing defendant, may consider his post-sentence rehabilitation to impose a lower sentence. It also ruled the court can grant a greater downward departure than it ordered when orginally sentencing defendant.

We hold that when a defendant’s sentence has been set aside on appeal, a district court at resentencing may consider evidence of the defendant’s postsentencing rehabilitation and that such evidence may, in appropriate cases, support a downward variance from the now-advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines range. Separately, we affirm the Court of Appeals’ ruling that the law of the case doctrine did not require the District Court in this case to apply the same percentage departure from the Guidelines range for substantial assistance that had been applied at petitioner’s prior sentencing.

The only dissenters were Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito (the latter dissented only in part.)

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