US v. Andujar-Arais, 06-1189. Oh boy. In this sentencing (for illegal re-entry) appeal, the First Circuit holds that the “Fast Track” program for quick guilty pleas doesn’t create the kind of disparities that a judge address under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(6). Moreover, the existence of the program in some districts doesn’t violate his 14th amendment equal protection rights.
The defendant apparently just wants a re-sentencing with the District Court being told to consider the disparities. But the First isn’t going to give it to him. (“In essence, he asks us to find that district courts must, as a matter of law, account for such disparities.”) The First finds that the statute authorizing the fast-track program is facially constitutional. It rejects an “as-applied” challenge (based on statistical evidence), and then looks at the Feeney Amendment (which, if I recall correctly is what gave teeth to argument that won the day in Booker), and concludes that the DOJ can allocate its resources however it wants. Moreover, “charge-bargaining” programs are also facially okay and constitutional as applied.
And, in a gentlemanly way (without being a jerk about it like some Circuits I could mention), the First rejects a “Almendarez-Torres is no longer good law” argument.
The opinion quotes an article by Rebecca K. Schendel Norris as background about fast-track programs.