United States v. Gardner, No. 18-1731 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Gardner was arrested after firing a gun at two vehicles thought to be driven by rival gang members. While in pretrial custody, he engaged in additional violent behavior. Before trial, Gardner was diagnosed with major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and chronic posttraumatic stress syndrome; a second evaluation found that Gardner “appears to [have] borderline personality disorder traits, i.e., a propensity toward marked impulsivity and reactivity without sufficient forethought or moral compunction.” He pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1). The district judge imposed an above-Guidelines sentence based in part on Gardner’s use of violence in a prior burglary, U.S.S.G. 2K2.1(a)(1)– (4). Gardner had a lengthy criminal history. The Seventh Circuit affirmed his 100-month sentence, rejecting an argument that the “categorical approach” applies when a judge exercises Booker discretion to impose an above-Guidelines sentence based on a defendant’s aggravating conduct in a prior crime. The sentencing judge may consider aggravating circumstances in a defendant’s criminal record without the constraints imposed by the categorical approach that usually applies to statutory sentencing enhancements and the determination of offense-level increases and criminal-history points under the Guidelines. Gardner waived arguments that the judge inadequately addressed his mental-health challenges and relied on inaccurate information in the presentence report.