WASMAN V. UNITED STATES, 468 U. S. 559 (1984)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wasman v. United States, 468 U.S. 559 (1984)

Wasman v. United States

No. 83-173

Argued March 20, 1984

Decided July 3, 1984

468 U.S. 559


Prior to trial on a federal indictment charging petitioner with mail fraud, he was indicted, tried, and convicted of the unrelated federal offense of knowingly and willfully making false statements in a passport application. At the sentencing hearing, the trial judge stated that, pursuant to his usual practice, he would not consider the pending mail fraud charge in passing sentence but would consider only prior convictions. Petitioner was then sentenced to two years' imprisonment, all but six months of which was suspended in favor of three years of probation. Thereafter, the mail fraud indictment was dismissed, and an information charging petitioner with possession of counterfeit certificates of deposit was substituted. Petitioner pleaded nolo contendere to that charge before a different District Court Judge, and was sentenced to two years' probation. Subsequently, the Court of Appeals reversed petitioner's conviction for the passport offense, and petitioner was retried on the charge before the same trial judge and was again convicted. In imposing a sentence of two years' imprisonment, none of which was suspended, the trial judge explained that he imposed the greater sentence because of petitioner's intervening conviction for possession of counterfeit certificates of deposit. The judge rejected petitioner's argument that, because the conduct underlying the conviction for possession of counterfeit certificates of deposit occurred prior to petitioner's original sentencing on the passport conviction, he could not, under North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U. S. 711, receive a sentence greater than that received for the original conviction. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: After retrial and conviction following a defendant's successful appeal, a sentencing authority may justify an increased sentence by affirmatively identifying relevant conduct or events that occurred subsequent to the original sentencing proceedings. Pp. 468 U. S. 563-565, 468 U. S. 569-571, 468 U. S. 571-572.

(a) In Pearce, supra, the Court held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prevented increased sentences motivated by vindictive retaliation by the judge after reconviction following a successful appeal, and that, whenever a judge imposes a more severe sentence upon a defendant after a new trial, the reasons for his doing so must affirmatively appear. Thus, Pearce establishes a rebuttable

Page 468 U. S. 560

presumption of vindictiveness, not an absolute prohibition against enhancement of sentence. Pp. 468 U. S. 563-565.

(b) Here, the fact that petitioner in effect received a greater sentence of confinement following retrial than he had originally received was sufficient to engage the presumption of Pearce. However, the trial judge carefully explained his reasons for imposing the greater sentence, and his consideration of the intervening conviction was manifestly legitimate, amply rebutting any presumption of vindictiveness. Pp. 468 U. S. 569-571.

700 F.2d 663, affirmed.

BURGER, C.J.,announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II-A, III-A, III-C, and IV, in which WHITE, BLACKMUN, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Parts II-B and III-B, in which WHITE, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which BLACKMUN, J., joined, post, p. 468 U. S. 573. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which MARSHALL, J., joined,post, p. 468 U. S. 574. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 468 U. S. 574.

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