United States v. Sidney Baker

Court Case Details
Court Case Opinion




No. 12-4412


Plaintiff - Appellee,



Defendant - Appellant.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle
District of North Carolina, at Greensboro. Thomas D. Schroeder,
District Judge. (1:11-cr-00389-TDS-1)

Submitted: September 11, 2012

Decided: September 28, 2012

Before AGEE, DAVIS, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges.

Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion.

Louis C. Allen III, Federal Public Defender, Gregory Davis,
Senior Litigator, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for Appellant.
Ripley Rand, United States Attorney, Stephen T. Inman, Assistant
United States Attorney, Greensboro, North Carolina, for

Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.


Sidney Arnaz Baker appeals his eight-month sentence

following a guilty plea to theft of Government funds, in

violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641 (2006). On appeal, Baker argues

that the district court committed procedural error by failing to

specifically address his argument regarding the need to avoid

unwarranted sentencing disparities pursuant to 18 U.S.C.

§ 3553(a)(6). Finding no reversible error, we affirm.

Baker preserved his claim of error “[b]y drawing

arguments from § 3553 for a sentence different than the one

ultimately imposed.” United States v. Lynn, 592 F.3d 572, 578

(4th Cir. 2010). Therefore, any error must lead to reversal,

“unless we conclude that the error was harmless.” Id. at 581.

A district court commits procedural sentencing error by “failing

to calculate (or improperly calculating) the Guidelines range,

treating the Guidelines as mandatory, failing to consider the

§ 3553(a) factors, selecting a sentence based on clearly

erroneous facts, or failing to adequately explain the chosen

sentence.” Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 51 (2007).

“Regardless of whether the district court imposes an above,

below, or within-Guidelines sentence, it must place on the

record an individualized assessment based on the particular

facts of the case before it.” United States v. Carter, 564 F.3d

325, 330 (4th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).


“Where the defendant or prosecutor presents

nonfrivolous reasons for imposing a different sentence than that

set forth in the advisory Guidelines, a district judge should

address the party’s arguments and explain why he has rejected

those arguments.” Id. at 328 (internal quotation marks and

citation omitted). “[A] district court’s explanation of its

sentence need not be lengthy, but the court must offer some

‘individualized assessment’ justifying the sentence imposed and

rejection of arguments for a higher or lower sentence based on

§ 3553.” Lynn, 592 F.3d at 584 (quoting Gall, 552 U.S. at 50).

However, “[t]o establish the reasonableness of a sentence, a

district court need not explicitly discuss every § 3553(a)

factor on the record.” United States v. Johnson, 445 F.3d 339,

345 (4th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted).

We conclude that the district court did not

procedurally err in failing to address Baker’s argument

regarding the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities.

Section 3553(a)(6) requires a sentencing court to consider “the

need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants

with similar records who have been found guilty of similar

conduct.” In support of his argument for a below-Guidelines

sentence of probation, Baker cited examples of two other

defendants convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 641 who had received


sentences of probation.

However, Baker failed to address the

defendants’ criminal histories and the circumstances of their

criminal conduct.

The district court did not procedurally err in

imposing the eight-month below-Guidelines sentence by failing to

specifically address his sentencing disparity argument, as the

court thoroughly explained its reasons for the sentence imposed.

The court placed an individualized assessment on the record

supporting the stated sentence, addressing the seriousness of

Baker’s crime, the length of Baker’s criminal conduct, and the

significant loss attributable to Baker, as well as Baker’s

health, age, education, and community involvement.

Accordingly, we deny as moot Baker’s motion to

expedite decision and affirm the district court’s judgment. We

dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal

contentions are adequately presented in the materials before the

court and argument would not aid the decisional process.


Contrary to Baker’s assertions, one of the defendants had,

in fact, received a thirty-day intermittent sentence of
imprisonment, in addition to probation.


Referenced Cases