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May 7, 2009

A (third-hand hearsay) report on how DOJ is now dealing with crack sentencings

In prior posts, I have been wondering how local federal prosecutors would approach crack sentencings in the wake of advocacy from the new Justice Department last week in Congress urging the complete elimination of any crack/powder disparity.  This afternoon, I got a partial (third-hand hearsay) answer when I received from a friend of the blog via e-mail what purports to be part of a letter from a federal prosecutor to defense counsel in one federal district.  Here is the key section of that letter:

United States Attorney’s Offices were provided with new guidance concerning sentencing for crack cocaine offenses.  This guidance provides that United States Attorney’s Offices should inform courts that the Department of Justice believes Congress and the United States Sentencing Commission should eliminate the crack/powder cocaine disparity.  Congress has not yet determined whether or how to achieve a more appropriate sentencing scheme for crack and powder offenses.  Until Congress acts, the Department of Justice recognizes courts must exercise their discretion under existing case law to fashion a sentence that is consistent with the objectives of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).

The Department of Justice’s position with respect to variance motions in crack cocaine cases is to be determined on a case-by-case basis.  The Department of Justice will continue to charge provable threshold quantities of crack cocaine triggering mandatory minimums.

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May 7, 2009 at 05:33 PM | Permalink

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Comments

"The Department of Justice will continue to charge provable threshold quantities of crack cocaine triggering mandatory minimums."

That's disappointing, because the mandatory minimums are often what trigger the especially brutal sentences for first time offenders. If the DOJ was serious about getting rid of the disparity, they could not include quantities in indictments, or at least choose to include a lesser amount.

Posted by: Anon 423 | May 7, 2009 6:10:42 PM

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In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB