Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The sentencing transcript in Kimbrough
In this prior post, I discussed some of the issues (and linked the cert papers) related to the Supreme Court's cert grant last Monday in Kimbrough v. United States, No. 06-6330, the crack sentencing case. I have since had a chance to review the transcript fromt the district court sentencing in Kimbrough, which I provide for downloading below.
In an effort to putting aside all the intricate legal issues related to Booker and 3553(a) and guideline provisions, I would like to read comments from folks after they review this transcript on the most basic and essential question: was the sentence given by Judge Raymond Jackson to Derrick Kimbrough on April 15, 2005 reasonable?
Some recent related posts:
- Thinking through Kimbrough and the state of crack sentencing
- SCOTUS scratches my sentencing itch, but also has me scratching my head
- A coming reasonableness clusterf#@k? Ruminations while waiting for Rita
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Thinking through Kimbrough and the state of crack sentencing
The Supreme Court's cert grant last Monday in Kimbrough v. United States, No. 06-6330, justifiably received a lot of attention (see here) because it appears that SCOTUS is finally going to get involved in the long-standing debate over crack sentencing (which has hit new heights since Booker). Notably, this morning brings two distinct commentaries here and here calling upon the Supreme Court and others to do something about crack sentencing inequities.
But, the timing and the context for the Court's foray into this arena has me still scratching my head about what the Justices are up to with federal sentencing these days. Let me explain:
1. Quirky facts: The cert papers in Kimbrough — and here are links to Kimbrough's petition, the government's response, and Kimbrough's reply — indicate the case facts are very quirky. According to the cert petition, Derrick Kimbrough pleaded guilty without a plea agreement and "turn[ed] down the government's offer to dismiss the Â§ 924(c) count," which added five extra mandatory years to his sentence. And yet, for some unclear reason, Kimbrough was denied an "acceptance of responsibility" reduction. I am wondering what weird back-story might explain all this.
2. Quirky timing: Last month the US Sentencing Commission proposed amendments to the crack guidelines and strongly encourage Congress to make further adjustments (details in this archive). The new crack guidelines will become effective (absent congressional action) November 1, which will be after SCOTUS hears argument, but before a ruling, in Kimbrough. Though the district court's initial sentencing in Kimbrough makes the USSC's amendment not directly relevant, now seems like an especially quirky time for the Justices to be opining on crack sentencing dynamics.
That all said, simply the cert grant in Kimbrough should help lower court judges and Congress and the Justice Department and the USSC and others appreciate the need to focus on cocaine sentencing justice throughout 2007. That alone makes the grant in Kimbrough valuable, even if curious.