Submitted: September 18, 2017
from United States District Court for the Western District of
Missouri - Kansas City
COLLOTON, BENTON, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
L. Ballard challenges the substantive reasonableness of the
121-month sentence the district court imposed after she pleaded
guilty to possession with intent to distribute
methamphetamine. We affirm.
Ballard entered her guilty plea, the United States Probation
Office prepared a presentence report that calculated an
advisory Guidelines range of 121 to 151 months in prison. At
the sentencing hearing, Ballard sought a downward variance.
She acknowledged that she had numerous prior misdemeanor
convictions, but emphasized that her most recent convictions
were for non-violent offenses and that she was addicted to
drugs. She also pointed out that she had never served prison
time, that the amount of methamphetamine she had possessed
was only slightly above the threshold for a two-level
increase to her Guidelines offense level, that she had
children, that she was attending school at the time of her
arrest, and that she had a history of consistent employment.
The government noted, among other things, that Ballard had
tested positive for methamphetamine several times since her
initial arrest, and that, as result, the magistrate judge had
revoked her pre-trial release.
district court sentenced Ballard to 121 months in prison,
followed by 3 years of supervised release. The court noted
that Ballard-who was only 31 years old at the time she was
sentenced-had no fewer than 31 prior convictions, and
reasoned that, although they were all misdemeanors, the
convictions reflected a continued course of criminal conduct
and a lack of effort on Ballard's part to stop using
drugs or to otherwise rehabilitate herself. The district
court referenced 18 U.S.C. § 3553, and explained that it
was imposing a 121-month sentence "for punishment,
deterrence and to serve the ends of justice, to afford
adequate deterrence to criminal conduct by [Ballard], to
reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect
for the law, and to provide just punishment for the
appeal, Ballard contends that her sentence is substantively
unreasonable. In her view, the district court failed to
consider mitigating factors that should have received
considerable weight, and committed a clear error in judgment
in weighing the § 3553(a) factors.
review the substantive reasonableness of a sentence under a
deferential abuse-of-discretion standard, considering the
totality of the circumstances. United States v.
Feemster, 572 F.3d 455, 461 (8th Cir. 2009) (en banc).
"'A district court abuses its discretion when it (1)
fails to consider a relevant factor that should have received
significant weight; (2) gives significant weight to an
improper or irrelevant factor; or (3) considers only the
appropriate factors but in weighing those factors commits a
clear error of judgment.'" United States v.
Jenkins, 758 F.3d 1046, 1050 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Feemster, 572 F.3d at 461).
disagree with Ballard's assertion that the district court
failed to consider important mitigating factors. District
courts "need not specifically respond to every argument
made by the defendant or mechanically recite each §
3553(a) factor." United States v. Struzik, 572
F.3d 484, 487 (8th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).
Ballard's counsel clearly articulated several mitigating
factors at the sentencing hearing, and the sentencing record
reflects that the district court considered those factors but
gave them little weight relative to other § 3553(a)
district court also did not commit a clear error of judgment
in weighing the § 3553(a) factors. "The district
court has wide latitude to weigh the § 3553(a) factors
in each case and assign some factors greater weight than
others in determining an appropriate sentence."
United States v. Borromeo, 657 F.3d 754, 757 (8th
Cir. 2011). Here, the district court did not clearly err by
giving great weight to Ballard's extensive history of
criminal conduct, or by giving little weight to her history
of drug addiction and the fact that her previous offenses
were all misdemeanors. See United States v. Farmer,
647 F.3d 1175, 1180 (8th Cir. 2011) ("A district
court's choice to assign relatively greater weight to the
nature and circumstances of the offense than to the
mitigating personal characteristics of the defendant is well
within its wide latitude in weighing relevant
factors."). The district court imposed a
within-Guidelines-range sentence after considering the §
3553(a) factors, giving great weight to Ballard's
extensive history of relatively minor offenses, and
considering-but finding unpersuasive-her arguments in favor
of mitigation. The district court did not fail to consider a
relevant factor that should have received significant weight,
give significant weight to an improper or irrelevant factor,
or commit a clear error of judgment in considering the
appropriate factors. See Jenkins, 758 F.3d at 1050.
Accordingly, we affirm.
The Honorable Dean Whipple, United
States District Judge for the Western District of