In United States v. Steiger, No. 22-10742 (Oct. 3, 2023) (William Pryor, Jill Pryor, Coogler (N.D. Ala.)), the Court vacated Mr. Steiger’s sentence and remanded for resentencing.

Mr. Steiger appealed his sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment following the revocation of his probation.  The Guidelines recommended a sentence of 12 to 18 months imprisonment.

The Court vacated and remanded for resentencing because the district court did not give any reason for why it was imposing an above-guideline sentence, as required by § 3553(c)(2) and United States v. Parks, 823 F.3d 990 (11th Cir. 2016).  The Court reiterated that it had adopted a per se rule of reversal for   §3553(c)(2) errors.  Thus, because the district court’s statements at sentencing were not sufficiently specific to allow the Court to understand why it imposed an above-guideline sentence, the Court vacated and remanded.  The Court rejected the government’s suggestion that it look at the context and record from the entire revocation proceeding to glean the reasoning for the sentence imposed.

Chief Judge William Pryor concurred, but urged the Court to rehear the case en banc to reconsider Parks, which requires a per se rule of reversal for  § 3553(c)(2) errors even when a defendant fails to object to the explanation of his sentence before the district court.  In his view,  § 3553(c) challenges should be treated like all other procedural sentencing challenges, which are reviewed for plain error when a defendant fails to object in the district court.