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November 12, 2004

Off to Chicago with interesting briefcase readings

I am off to the airport to participate in this great University of Chicago event (more background and details here).   Though I hope to be able to get on-line in Chicago, posting is likely to be light over the next few days.

But thanks to Howard Bashman and also an insightful reader, I am able to take with me two interesting federal circuit court sentencing decisions.  They come from the Second and Fifth Circuits, and though they do not directly concern Blakely issues, they both make for important reading as we contemplate the future of federal sentencing reforms.

The decision from the Second Circuit is US v. Vasquez, No. 03-1763 (2d Cir. Nov. 10, 2004) (available here), in which Judge Jon Newman (my former boss) seeks to finally clarify the proper standard of review for sentencing guidelines appeals. Especially at a time when Blakely may call for close examination of distinctions between sentencing law and sentencing facts, it seems very important for courts to be examining sentencing "issues that are not easily categorized as issues of either fact or law."

The decision from the Fifth Circuit is US v. Andrews, No. 03-51367 (5th Cir. Nov. 11, 2004) (available here) in which the court concludes, in the course of a reversal and remand for resentencing by a different district judge, that "the district court's decision was fatally infected with antagonism toward the United States Sentencing Guidelines." Especially at a time when Blakely may call for consideration of advisory or differently-structured guidelines, it seems very important to examine what really drives decision-making by sentencing courts.

I hope to have more commentary about both these cases after I have a chance to give them a closer read.

November 12, 2004 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

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