Friday, October 26, 2012

ABA Fall Institute - Sentencing Panel

This panel was moderated by James Felman (Kynes, Markman & Felman, P.A.). The opening panelist, Hon. Ketanji Brown Jackson, Vice-Chair, U.S. Sentencing Commission, spoke about the 2012 Guideline Amendments which go into effect soon if Congress does not modify the changes.  Some of these changes are in the white collar crime arena. Specifically, there are modifications to certain frauds – insider trading, mortgage fraud, securities fraud, and financial institution fraud.  Many of these changes regard the determinations of loss.  In some instances the commission changed the application notes.The speaker also noted that the Sentencing Commission is in a multi-year study of economic crimes. (proposed amendments can be found here)

Providing a congressional perspective was Bobby Vassar (Chief Minority Counsel, Subcommittee Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, U.S. House of Representatives) who reminded us that no one gets defeated in an election by being tough on crime.  Providing an executive perspective was Michael Rotker, Criminal Appellate Division, U.S. Department of Justice. From the defense side was Amy Baron Evans, Federal Defenders Sentencing Resource Counsel.

Two individuals provided international perspectives: Clarisse Moreno (Kynes, Markman & Felman, P.A.) and Stephan Terblanche (University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa).   Ms Moreno noted that in France if you get two years or less, very rarely will you serve prison time. Absent it being a human rights violation, in Norway the maximum penalty is 21 years. Ms. Moreno also noted that the recidivism rate is low in Norway. Stephan Terblanche noted that where movies and other items from the U.S. are looked at elsewhere, the sentencing guidelines do not export very well. Having the international perspective offered by these speakers was particularly fascinating and offered a welcomed dimension to this sentencing discussion.   

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