United States v. Velnita Jolette Hairy Chin, No. 16-1091 (8th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Defendant, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and resident of the Tribe's reservation, appealed her 37 month sentence after pleading guilty to one count of child abuse. The court rejected defendant's claim that the district court committed reversible error by failing to rule on her objection to the PSR's recommended two-level increase for the victim's bodily injury pursuant to USSG 2A2.3(b)(1)(A). The court reasoned that an absence of a specific ruling on defendant's objection to the PSR was not by itself a significant procedural error because the record reflected sufficient evidence for the district court's findings to receive meaningful appellate review. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by deciding to count defendant's 40 tribal court convictions in reaching its sentence; the district court had an ample basis for discounting her alleged mitigating good behavior, especially considering her virtual repeat offense; and the sentence was substantively reasonable where the district court gave an individualized assessment of defendant's criminal history and the circumstances surrounding the conviction. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.