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November 24, 2007

Booker's limited impact in one district, three years later

I almost find it hard to believe that the Booker advisory guideline system has been in operation for nearly three years now.  And, as this Cleveland Plain Dealer article spotlights, the federal sentencing system has been surprisingly stable over this time.  Here are snippets:

Federal judges in Cleveland and Akron and around the country continue to mostly sentence offenders within the once-mandatory guidelines, according to U.S. Sentencing Commission statistics. Congress created mandatory sentencing guidelines in 1986 under the Sentencing Reform Act as a way to establish near-uniform sentences for similar crimes....

[US District Judge James] Carr, the chief judge in the Northern District of Ohio, attributes that to the fact that most of the judges on the federal bench today were appointed during the mandatory-guideline era. "We're simply much more accustomed to dealing with the guidelines than our predecessors," Carr said. But Carr and U.S. District Judge Dan A. Polster said judges have done their best to adapt to a system that seems to be in flux and continues to draw scrutiny from legal experts, lawmakers and the public. "I don't think anyone is on autopilot," Polster said. "We're used to giving sentences with the range.  In many cases, they are reasonable and appropriate sentences."

My recent article, entitled "Rita, Reasoned Sentencing, and Resistance to Change" (available here), emphasizes the unique force of status quo biases in the reform of the federal sentencing system.  This article just highlights how these biases play out in one district.

November 24, 2007 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Mr. Berman,

Can you tell me more or less by when can we expect a desicition of Gall? I know that booker was given in December. Maybe Gall will be our christmas gift?

Posted by: EJ | Nov 24, 2007 3:58:40 PM

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