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December 1, 2004

More snippets on Blakely's federal impact

As discussed at length here, there are lots of ways to view and assess the preliminary data about post-Blakely federal sentencings in July and August recently made available by the US Sentencing Commission in three pretty charts here.   And more empirical food for thought can be found in this brief article from The Third Branch, the official newsletter of the federal courts.  The article, which I assume is based on statistics collected by the Administrative Office of the Courts, explains:

Although it is impossible to predict a trend on just three months of data, it appears that during the post-Blakely period from June 24 to September 30, 2004, district and appellate courts are reporting civil, criminal, and appellate caseload data in which the impact of the Blakely decision can be identified. For example, motion to vacate sentence petitions in the district courts are up 80 percent compared to the same three-month period in 2003. Appellate proceedings not originating in the district courts also are up 30 percent. On the other hand, criminal sentences, pursuant to both guilty pleas and trials, declined in over half of the district courts.

The article is an interesting read even though it conflates a bit the Blakely story and a discussion of Oregon US District Judge Panner's dramatic decision in US v. Detwiler (discussed here with commentary here), which declared the federal sentencing guidelines unconstitutional on separation of powers grounds due to the passage of the Feeney Amendment.  Most telling, the article highlights that, though "a Supreme Court opinion on the sentencing guidelines is expected this term, for attorneys, defendants, federal judges, and convicted offenders, a resolution in this debate can't come soon enough."

December 1, 2004 at 05:35 PM | Permalink


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I am the wife of a man (wrongly) convicted of white collar crimes (mail and wire fraud and false claims against the government). His open appeal was ammended in June of 2004, to include the Blakely findings. While I truly understand that justice (although I have seen little justice since this nightmare began for us) takes time, I have been frustrated by the need of justice to vacation, while so many lives hang in the balance, awaiting a decision on Booker/Fanfan. I am so grateful to have this blog ... a place where I can find some real information, untainted by the politics of the moment. I was heartened to note that The Third Branch recognized the convicted defendants among those for whom the wait is excrutiating. As my life partner sits (so far, for 16 months) in a Federal Prison Camp, the Court continues to take their scheduled breaks. I need him home ... I and countless others need the Supreme Court to finally do the right thing on Booker/Fanfan.
Please keep up your great work here. I hope I haven't been an intruder, as I'm a middle school teacher, and not a lawyer or law professor. You have helped me to educate myself, so that I might speak somewhat intelligently to my husband's public defender, and try to be of some assistance in providing information. I'm certain I need not tell you the disparity between what the government may spend for trial comapred to what a public defender is able to spend.
Thank you, again. I sit vigil with you.
Cathy Benjamin

Posted by: Cathy Benjamin | Dec 1, 2004 9:38:35 PM

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