There are two things upon which I suspect most observers will agree following the decision in Koon v. United States. First, the United States Supreme Court wants district courts to have more discretion to depart from the otherwise applicable guideline range, and wants appellate courts to have less authority to overturn those discretionary judgments. Second, in light of the conflicting signals the Court gave by, on the one hand, declaring that the standard of appellate review for departure decisions is to be abuse of discretion,” and on the other hand, finding that two of the five factors relied upon by the district court in its departure decision were improper, it is virtually impossible to predict the practical effect of Koon on the daily work of the lower federal courts.
Frank O. Bowman III, Places In The Heartland: Departure Jurisprudence After Koon, 9 Fed. Sent. R. 19 (1997)