Third Circuit Grants Appeal for Sentencing Error

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded a final judgment where the trial court entered a general sentence on all counts of the Indictment. In United States v. Ward, 2010 WL 4746185 (C.A. 3 (Pa.)), the Third Circuit held that the sentencing court’s procedural error in entering a general sentence on all counts was plain error affecting defendant’s substantial rights. In Ward, the defendant, a former professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, pled guilty to five counts of an Indictment charging him with various counts of trafficking in child pornography and making false statements; he was sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment and a $100,000 fine. The Court imposed a sentence of 300 months (25 years) imprisonment, but did not specify a particular sentence on each count. This sentence exceeded the mandatory maximum on some of the counts. Section 5G1.2 of the Sentencing Guidelines indicates that sentencing courts must impose a sentence on each count. Therefore, the Third Circuit held that Ward’s substantial rights were affected by the Court’s error and that the sentence resulted in manifest injustice. Accordingly, the sentence was vacated and thecase was remanded for resentencing.