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January 25, 2009

Potent scholarship about reasonableness review and sentence explanations

The University of Chicago Law Review has published this new comment, titled "Determining 'Reasonableness' without a Reason?: Federal Appellate Review Post–Rita v United States."  As detailed in these passages from the introduction, the piece provides a potent and wise account of how appellate courts should assess procedural reasonableness:

This Comment explores the circuits’ conflicting readings of the Booker and Rita rulings with respect to the adequacy of judges’ sentencing explanations and argues that a sentence is procedurally reasonable only when the appellate court can follow, recreate, and assess the district court’s basis for the sentence. Not only is this conclusion supported by Booker and Rita’s emphasis on the importance of thoroughly reasoned sentencing opinions for the evolution of the Guidelines, but also by the SRA’s focus on increased transparency and rationality in the sentencing process....

Part V discusses the centrality of explicit and thoroughly reasoned sentencing explanations to SRA’s vision of the federal judiciary’s role in the development of sentencing policy and procedures. It proposes that the First and Sixth Circuits’ reading of Rita— that a sentence is procedurally unreasonable when neither the context nor the record clearly reveals the district court’s consideration of relevant § 3553(a) factors and the reasoning for imposing the sentence — most closely comports with both the purpose and text of the SRA, and with meaningful sentencing reform more generally.

Some related posts with some recent reasonableness review scholarship:

January 25, 2009 at 11:22 AM | Permalink

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