May 26, 2016
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Wisconsin. No. 15-Cr-81 - Rudolph T. Randa,
Wood, Chief Judge, and Manion and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.
Hamilton, Circuit Judge.
Grover Ferguson appeals his sentence. He was seventeen years
old when he shot a woman three times during a carjacking,
permanently disabling her. The high end of the guideline
range for his crime was 217 months in prison. The government
recommended a 240-month above-guideline sentence based on the
severity of Ferguson's violent actions. The district
court, however, imposed a sentence of 600 months (50 years)
in prison, or more than 31 years longer than the top of the
vacate the sentence and remand for re-sentencing. The
Sentencing Guidelines are, of course, advisory. A judge is
free to exercise his or her judgment to depart from them.
Such a dramatic variance from a guideline range, however,
requires a substantial explanation. Gall v. United
States, 552 U.S. 38, 50 (2007). The explanation given
here does not support a sentence that is more than 31 years
and more than two and a half times longer than the top of the
Ferguson's Crime and Sentence
April 21, 2015, Ferguson was seventeen years old. He was
drunk and high. He wanted a car. He approached a woman on the
street as she was getting into her car. He opened the
passenger door, pointed a gun at the woman, and demanded her
keys. She hesitated, thinking Ferguson was joking.
demanded the keys again, and he then shot the woman three
times at point-blank range, including one shot to her face.
Ferguson walked over to the woman, got her keys, and started
the car. The woman somehow managed to drag herself to the
curb to avoid being run over as Ferguson drove off. Police
arrested Ferguson the next day driving the stolen car, but
only after a high-speed chase.
crimes had a devastating effect on the woman he shot. She
lost sight in one eye and has nerve damage to her ear and
face. She suffers pain daily. She cannot drive anymore and
depends on others for transportation. She has not been able
to work since the attack. Ferguson's attack left her with
psychological injuries. She has nightmares about the robbery,
has become scared of her surroundings, and panics when she
sees young men outside her home.
pled guilty to vehicular robbery by force, 18 U.S.C. §
2119(2), and discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of
violence, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(iii). The statutory
range for the carjacking is up to 25 years (300 months) in
prison. The statutory range for discharging the firearm is a
mandatory minimum ten years (120 months) up to life, which
must be consecutive to the sentence for the carjacking.
is no dispute about the Sentencing Guideline calculation
here. The guideline range for the carjacking was 78 to 97
months, and the guideline sentence for the firearm count was
120 months, consecutive to the carjacking sentence. The total
guideline range was thus 198 to 217 months (sixteen and a
half years to a little over eighteen years).
sentencing hearing, the government requested an
above-guideline 20-year sentence due to the senselessly
violent nature of Ferguson's crime. The victim exercised
her right to be heard under the Crime Victims' Rights
Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3771, and urged the court to impose the
maximum possible sentence. The defense proposed a
fifteen-year sentence. The district court sentenced Ferguson
to 50 years: eight years for the carjacking and 42 years for
firing the gun.
The Delayed Supervised Release Conditions
addressing Ferguson's arguments, we first address some
procedural confusion in the case. The district court
sentenced Ferguson orally on December 3, 2015 and entered its
written judgment of conviction on December 9, 2015. The
sentence at that time was not complete, though, because the
judge had not yet announced the conditions of supervised
release that he intended to impose, nor had he decided the
amount of restitution. On December 11, 2015, Ferguson filed
his notice of appeal. More than three months later, on March
22, 2016, the district court issued an amended judgment ...