The nation is abuzz with news of Dr. Larry Nassar’s (up to) 175-year state prison sentence. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina gave a scathing speech before revealing Dr. Nassar’s punishment. If you’ve got some extra time to spare, you can read her remarks here.
So, what’s next for one of the most infamous sexual predators of our time? (There are a few to choose from. So, it’s hard to know who the most infamous predator of our time is…But, I’m pretty sure Nassar is on the list.)
He’s appealing the 60-year sentence a federal judge gave him late last year.
Are sentencing appeals even a thing?
Yes. Sentencing appeals are a thing. Defendants are allowed to appeal their sentence under 18 U.S.C. statute 3742.
Every defendant convicted of a crime is guaranteed an appeal of the conviction and sentence. Defendants that plead guilty to a crime waive their right to appeal the conviction. Sometimes they waive their right to appeal the sentence if it stays within the agreed-upon range. But not always.
Larry Nassar will have to appeal his sentence to one of the federal appeals circuits if he chooses to move forward. The appellate court will look at everything the district court judge did and considered before sentencing Nassar. The sentence will be overturned if, and only if, the district court judge erred in some way.
What does that even mean, you ask? Well, judges err when they place too much weight on some fact. Or not enough weight on other facts. They can err if they disregard sentence guidelines, etc.
I can’t give you a list of 10 sentencing mistakes federal judges make. If I could, the judges would have the list and they wouldn’t make those mistakes.
Larry Nassar’s odds of winning a sentencing appeal are low
Rule 35 in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure governs the reduction or correction of prison sentences.
Under this rule, we know that a clear error (i.e., arithmetical, technical, or other clear error) did not occur in Nassar’s federal sentencing hearing. If it had, the mistake would have been corrected within 14 days.
To succeed now, Nassar must convince an appeals court judge that the district court committed a legal or factual error when handing down his sentence.
And, that’s a big hill to climb. Like, Mount Everest big…