An unpublished opinion today suggests the Sixth Circuit may have just given up trying to explain the results of cases involving plain error review in Booker cases. See United States v. Watts, No. 03-6124. Watts involves a case where a defendant received:
several adjustments...to increase the offense level from the base of 6 to a total offense level of 26. The district court sentenced defendant at the bottom of the guideline range to a term of 63 months’ imprisonment (within the statutory maximum for Apprendi purposes) and ordered restitution in the amount of $1,060,840.52.
The entirety of the reasoning for the decision follows:
Defendant argues for the first time on appeal that while his sentence did not exceed the statutory maximum, the judicial fact-finding undertaken in determining his sentence in this case violated Blakely v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004). With the recent decision in United States v. Booker, 124 S. Ct. 738 (2005), it is necessary that the district court reconsider defendant’s sentence. United States v. Oliver, __ F.3d __, 2005 WL 233779 (6th No. 03-6124 13 Cir. Feb. 2, 2005); United States v. Bruce, __ F.3d __, 2005 WL 241254 (6th Cir. Feb. 3, 2005).
Loyal readers will recall that Bruce allows for the possibility of a plain Booker error not affecting substantial rights, while Oliver seems to find all Booker errors to affect substantial rights. (These cases are described here.) Maybe Judges Guy and Cole differed over which case to follow, but, recognizing that the result would be the same, decided to skip the explanation.