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October 11, 2007

Exploring prior good works in a white-collar world

Peter Henning of White Collar Crime Prof fame has posted on SSRN this new piece, entitled "Prior Good Works in the Age of Reasonableness," that should be of interest for folks following the federal sentencing of offenders with any color collar crime.  Here is the abstract:

The Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Booker allows federal judges a bit more discretion in sentencing, and with greater discretion in sentencing likely means less predictability in individual cases if the background of the person being sentenced takes on a larger role in assessing the appropriate punishment.  One area that may become more prominent in sentencing in white collar crime cases is a defendant's prior good works, which the Federal Sentencing Guidelines discourage as a sentencing factor but judges in the post-Booker age of reasonableness may pay greater attention to in their sentencing decisions.  The President's recent commutation of the sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, based in part on his valuable government service, will only increase the likelihood that prior good works will be an important ground for seeking a reduced sentence.

With greater discretion comes the potential for disparity, and in this Article I offer three rules of thumb for trial courts, and appellate courts reviewing the reasonableness of a punishment, to keep in mind when considering whether a defendant's prior good works should be a factor in the sentence.  The three rules are: (1) Money matters; (2) Beware the corporate chieftain; and (3) Elected officials violating the public trust should not receive credit for good works.

Some related posts about prior good works at sentencing:

October 11, 2007 at 04:20 PM | Permalink


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This sounds interesting and valuable. Did you neglect to post a link to the actual piece?

Posted by: Def. Atty. | Oct 11, 2007 5:30:53 PM


People can be so helpless sometimes

Posted by: | Oct 12, 2007 12:59:42 AM

Oops, link now added!

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 12, 2007 1:47:52 PM

Thanks Doug!

Posted by: Def. Atty. | Oct 12, 2007 4:25:27 PM

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