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December 30, 2004

A belated information present from the USSC

In my testimony last month to the US Sentencing Commission, I urged the USSC to examine post-Blakely developments, especially in the Seventh and Ninth Circuits where Blakely has been deemed applicable to the federal guidelines, to help assess whether a "quick legislative fix" would be truly essential after a possible ruling in Booker and Fanfan applying Blakely to the federal system.  Thus, I am very pleased to see that the USSC now has posted on its Booker/Fanfan page a document entitled "Preliminary Findings: Federal Sentencing Practices Subsequent to the Supreme Court’s Decision in Blakely v. Washington" (available here).

Here is how the USSC describes this fascinating new document on its Booker/Fanfan page:

While awaiting the submission and analysis of empirical data on the effect of the Blakely decision, the Commission staff conducted a survey of 40 sample subjects (judges, defense counsel, and probation officers) in the Seventh and Ninth Circuits to attempt to determine, through anecdotal means, how those jurisdictions are handling their criminal caseloads.

Though this document is, as stressed by the USSC, "preliminary" and "anecdotal" and only includes cases through October, it is still an extremely important and interesting (partial) report on the post-Blakely state of federal sentencing.  Along with this week's WSJ article on federal court doings, this document is a must read for everyone interested in assessing both the present and possible future of federal sentencing.

In subsequent posts over the next few days, I will highlight some of the most essential elements of this memo and also reflect on what it suggests for those planning for a post-Booker world.  For now, let me just lavish the USSC with praise for making this document publically available.  Perhaps this good deed will bring good karma for USSC Chair Judge Hinojosa's beloved Texas Longhorns (who will need to do a lot better against a Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl than another Big 12 team did against my Buckeyes in the Alamo Bowl last night).

December 30, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink

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