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UNITED STATES v. SMITH

July 20, 1995

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA against CARLTON SMITH, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JACK B. WEINSTEIN

 Jack B. Weinstein, Senior United States District Judge:

 INTRODUCTION

 When sentence is to be imposed for a crime of violence, the court must permit the victim to speak. Fed. R. Crim. P. 32(c)(3)(E)(as amended Sept. 13, 1994). This sensible process helps the court gauge the effects of the defendant's crime not only on the victim but on relevant communities. It also may act as a catharsis, facilitating quicker dissipation of bitterness over the assault on the victim's dignity.

 In this case a postal worker was viciously attacked while attempting to deliver mail. At the sentencing hearing he stated that his fellow postal workers were waiting to see how the court would deal with the defendant. Their interest was relevant to one of the purposes of sentencing: sending a message to both individuals and interested groups that society is concerned about their well-being and will not abandon them to unpunished criminal conduct. Such communication by the court is a proper, though not often articulated, purpose of sentencing.

 FACTS

 The victim was delivering mail when the defendant demanded that he turn over a package. He explained that the package had already been delivered. Incensed, the defendant beat and stabbed the postal worker, leaving severe physical and emotional scars.

 The defendant pled guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon upon a Postal Service employee during the performance of his official duties. 18 U.S.C. ยงยง 111 (a)(1) and (b). The Guidelines called for a sentence of 33 to 41 months in prison, absent departure.

 Sentencing Proceeding

 At sentencing, the victim was still deeply upset by memories of the event. He stated:

 
On October 28th of 1994, my life took a dramatic turn while I was working as a special delivery mailman for the U.S. Postal Service.
 
During the course of my duties, I encountered Mr. Smith, who was looking for a package. I told him that the package had been received by someone [who told me she was his wife] and presented me with identification.
 
The defendant did not believe me. After that, I encountered him again and at that time I was severely and brutally beaten and stabbed.
 
This experience has had a traumatic effect not only on me but on my family, my friends, and my coworkers.
 
I must tell you, Your Honor, . . . to have someone who you don't know viciously and brutally kick you, punch you, and then stab you, requiring twenty-two stitches to the head, is not something that you are likely to forget.
 
Today there is a tremendous risk to postal employees who are going into various areas delivering mail and packages. We are being shot at, and we are being beaten and stabbed. It seems as though no ...

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