Greenlaw v. United States

Numerous courts have held that a court of appeals may not order an increase in a criminal defendant’s sentence in the absence of an appeal or cross-appeal by the Government. The Eighth and Tenth Circuits, however, have held that courts of appeals may sua sponte order increases in a defendant’s sentence when the district court has failed to impose a statutory mandatory minimum sentence, even if the Government has not appealed or cross-appealed the sentence.

Brief filed: 02/21/2008


Greenlaw v. United States

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 07-330

Prior Decision

Opinion below, 481 F.3d 601 (8th Cir. 2007)

Question Presented

Whether a federal court of appeals may increase a criminal defendant’s sentence sua sponte and in the absence of a cross-appeal by the Government.



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Jonathan D. Hacker, Harvard Law School Supreme Court and Appellate Advocacy Clinic, Cambridge, MA.