In U.S. v. Ryan P. Collins, the defendant was found guilty after trial of receiving and distributing child pornography, 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2), and possessing child pornography. Prior to sentencing the defendant, the trial judge polled the jurors and 11 of the 12 recommended that the defendant receive less than 30 months incarceration, which was in stark contrast to the federal sentencing guidelines that had the defendant looking at 262 to 327 months of incarceration. The judge ultimately sentenced the defendant to 5 years of incarceration and the government appealed.
As part of its argument to the 6th Circuit, the government claimed that the "judge's reliance on the jury poll impermissibly conflates the distinct roles of the judge and jury." The appellate court quickly batted this argument down by stating that the poll occurred after the jury determined the defendant's guilt thus the poll did not intrude on the jury's traditional fact finding role.
Next, the government argued that the jury poll was an "impermissible factor" for the judge to consider in determining a sentence. Here, the appellate court pointed out that "Federal law provides nearly unfettered scope as to the sources from which a district judge may draw in determining a sentence." The appellate court went on to state that the "the jury's sentencing recommendation" did not prevent the trial judge from considering the other Section 3553(a) factors that judges must consider when crafting an appropriate sentence.
Ultimately, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals held that it was not "substantively unreasonable" for a trial judge to poll jurors and consider their responses before sentencing the defendant.
To read more about this case go here.