June 25, 2007
Powerful attack from Judicial Conference against mandatory minimums
As first noted here and as detailed officially here, tomorrow morning the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security of the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing entitled, "Hearing on Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws — The Issues." I have been expecting that most of the speakers would be offering testimony critical of mandatory minimum sentencing statutes. I have just received a copy of the written statement of US District Judge Paul Cassell on behalf of the Judicial Conference of the United States, and it is even more critical than I expected.
Judge Cassell written statement on behalf of the Judicial Conference is available for download below. Here is how it begins:
I am pleased to be here today on behalf of the Judicial Conference of the United States and its Criminal Law Committee to discuss the damage mandatory minimum sentence do to logic and rationality in our nation's federal courts.
Mandatory minimum sentences mean one-size-fits-all injustice. Each offender who comes before a federal judge for sentencing deserves to have [his or her] individual facts and circumstances considered in determining a just sentence. Yet mandatory minimum sentences require judges to put blinders on to the unique facts and circumstances of particular cases, producing what the late Chief Justice Rehnquist has aptly identified as "unintended consequences."
UPDATE: I now see that the full list of witnesses for the hearing is available at the official House website. Here is the full list of scheduled witnesses:
- T. J. Bonner, President National Border Patrol Council (AFGE)
- The Honorable Paul G. Cassell, Judge Judicial Conference of the United States
- The Honorable Ricardo H. Hinojosa, Chairman United States Sentencing Commission
- Marc Mauer, Executive Director The Sentencing Project
- Serena Nunn
- Richard Roper, U.S. Attorney
June 25, 2007 at 03:03 PM | Permalink
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Mando minimums are essential in federal law enforcement. Federal judges simply cannot be trusted to impose harsh sentences on the kinds of defendants subject to minimum sentences, such as violent gang members, drug dealers, and so on, and federal prosecutors need leverage to work up the ladder. Guidelines are helpful to all practitioners b/c it at least makes an effort at consistency in sentencing. Where I practice, several judges have use Booker to hand out weak sentences (probation, split sentences, substantial downward variances), and others have used Booker as an opportunity to hammer defendants -- to literally max some defendants out. In other words, the single most important factor in predicting what kind of sentence a defendant will get, is the judge that the defendant drew on the mysterious judicial wheel.
Posted by: rls | Jun 25, 2007 11:26:36 PM
Well, then submit the Guidelines' facts to the jury and you can have all the mandatory-ness you want.
Posted by: | Jun 26, 2007 7:36:58 AM
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Posted by: anonymous | Mar 10, 2008 2:30:25 AM