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Corder v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi

January 15, 2020

FREDERICK CORDER APPELLANT
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA APPELLEE

          ORDER

          MICHAEL P. MILLS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This cause comes before the court on the appeal of the Magistrate Judge's conviction and sentence of the appellant, Dr. Frederick Corder, for various charges in connection with the unlawful killing of legally-protected birds. On November 6, 2017, Dr. Corder was charged by Information with one count of conspiracy to violate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and eight substantive counts of violating, or aiding and abetting the violation of, that Act. Following a bench trial before Magistrate Judge David A. Sanders on August 6 and 7, 2018, Dr. Corder was convicted on all nine counts. He was subsequently sentenced to a total fine of $50, 000.00, which consisted of $10, 000.00 for the conspiracy count and $5, 000.00 for each of the eight substantive counts. Dr. Corder was placed on probation for a period of two years, and the primary condition of that probation was that he could not hunt during the two-year probationary period. Dr. Corder subsequently appealed his conviction to this court, raising appellate issues regarding: 1) the evidentiary basis for his conviction, 2) the substantive reasonableness of the sentence, and 3) alleged procedural errors made by the Magistrate Judge during sentencing, in particular his failure to make on-the-record findings regarding the 18 U.S.C. § 3553 sentencing factors.

         On November 21, 2019, this court held oral argument regarding Dr. Corder's appeal and notified the parties beforehand that it was seeking arguments primarily on the third issue. In deciding to consider oral argument on this procedural issue, this court was motivated largely by the fact that, while the government provided thorough and comprehensive briefing with regard to appellant's first two points of error, it did not offer any written opposition to his argument that the Magistrate Judge had failed to make on-the-record findings regarding the § 3553 factors. It was unclear to this court whether this was simply an oversight or whether the government was tacitly conceding Dr. Corder's arguments in this regard.

         At the hearing, it became clear that the government had, in fact, very few arguments to make in opposition to defendant's procedural objections to the proceedings below. At the hearing, the government agreed with Dr. Corder that, as a misdemeanor case outside of the scope of the sentencing guidelines, the § 3553 factors do, in fact, apply. These factors are as follows:

The court shall impose a sentence sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the purposes set forth in paragraph (2) of this subsection. The court, in determining the particular sentence to be imposed, shall consider-
(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant;
(2) the need for the sentence imposed-
(A) to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense;
(B) to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct;
(C) to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant; and
(D) to provide the defendant with needed educational or vocational training, medical care, or other correctional treatment in the most effective manner;
(3) the kinds of sentences available;
(4) the kinds of sentence and the sentencing range established for-
(A) the applicable category of offense committed by the applicable category of defendant as set forth ...

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