Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Sentencing- Is this a Government Fix?

Looks like someone thought they could pull off a Booker fix without anyone noticing.  Thanks to Doug Berman's wonderful blog here, and the NACDL website here, as well as so many others - it is being noticed. Both of these websites provide full details of what someone (is it DOJ?) is trying to make happen.  And looking at the details of what is being proposed in this "fix" it is apparent that someone is trying to remove discretion from the judiciary and place it back in the hands of the prosecution (gosh, would the DOJ really do something like this?).  To give a flavor of some of the proposed changes, the NACDL website reports that the "fix":

  • Prohibits courts from relying upon virtually every conceivable ground (35) for a below-range sentence ("downward departure") -- except to calculate a guidelines range or impose a sentence at or above the bottom of that range.
  • Prohibits courts from sentencing below the applicable guidelines range based on defendant cooperation except upon motion of the government

Checking out the NACDL website here and also see the impressive letter here signed by a long list of former US Attorneys and others (former Attorney General Griffin Bell, former assistant attorney general Jo Ann Harris, and it goes on). 

What is particularly bothersome here, is that this Booker fix is being aired without the opportunity of meaningful input by the judiciary, academics, practitioners, and others. That's just plain wrong and hopefully Congress will not buy into this.



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