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Panel Again Faults Judge in Second Sentencing Appeal

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A felon who punched a cop during a weapons arrest will see his time in jail reduced thanks to a panel of judges in the 7th Circuit Appellate Court, who remanded his case for a second time after judges in district court failed to adequately explain their sentencing decisions. Brandon Schoffner earned the same seven-year stretch from different judges, whose readings of federal Sentencing Guidelines lent the Kankakee man grounds for both appeals. He admitted to owning the gun found in his glove compartment during a 2016 Safe Neighborhoods sweep and striking the arresting officer in an attempt to flee, with priors putting him in violation of a federal prohibition on felons possessing firearms.

The appellate court concurred that the judge who sentenced Schoffner upon his initial conviction to a stretch below the suggested minimum erred by not making clear whether the punch caused the cop serious injury, thus calling into question the calculation used to set the term. Armed with the revised guidelines and supporting evidence of Shoffner’s record as a model prisoner, the second judge rejected his argument for a below-guidelines halving of the original 84 months behind bars. However, the panel cited case law in ruling that the judge’s comments on both the post-trial rehabilitation and his treatment of the thrown punch weren’t sufficient to uphold the decision.