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November 21, 2008

The revised make-up of the US Sentencing Commission

A helpful reader helped me discover that the US Senate yesterday confirmed two important Presidential nominees to the US Sentencing Commission.  Specifically, it appears that by voice vote the Senate has now (1) confirmed Judge Ricardo Hinojosa to continue serving as a Commissioner (and Chair?) of the USSC, and (2) confirmed William Carr to start a term as a new Commissioner of the USSC (replacing the now retired John Steer). 

Hearty congrats to both Commissioners Hinojosa and Carr.  I have come to know and respect both of these sentencing gurus, and I am already looking forward to what they might have planned for the USSC in the months and years ahead.  I am especially hopeful that they are willing to be especially bold and creative about federal sentencing law and policy in the wake of an election in which both major political parties were stressing the need for legal and policy changes in DC.

I am hopeful that the USSC website will soon have an official public discussion of these notable developments.  Also, I am left wondering about the status of current Commissioner Michael Horowitz, who had been nominated by President Bush for another stint but apparently was not considered by the Senate yesterday.  Because the USSC has statutory constraints on its composition — involving party affiliation and judicial status — the seat of Commissioner Horowitz might need to be filled by a different person.  But here I am just speculating (and I fear that neither the Obama transition team or likely new AG Holder has had much time to date to really focus on the only federal agency technically in the judicial branch).

I welcome any insider reports (or outsider comments) on these developments or on yesterday's USSC public meeting.  This is an exciting time (and quite dynamic and uncertain time) to be in the thick of federal sentencing law and policy debates.

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November 21, 2008 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

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