Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tragic and personal criminal justice story: the killing of Professor Dan Markel

Like many other law professors and bloggers, I was stunned and deeply saddened upon learning yesterday that Florida State University law professor Dan Markel died after having been shot at his home.  Paul Caron at Tax Prof has this post, Death of Dan Markel (1972-2014), with news reports and links to postings by other law profs and bloggers.

Dan was a personal friend, and his extraordinary commitment and contribution to big ideas in criminal law and theory during his (much too short) life cannot be easily overstated. Of particular note, Dan was among the most active and forceful voices seeking to define and defend a modern conception of retributive justice. For that reason and many others, I hope those responsible for this shocking crime are brought soon to justice.  

All those who were close to and cared for Dan are in my thoughts and prayers. RIP Professor Dan Markel.

July 20, 2014 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sorry for all the tech problems, which I hope are now fixed

It seems the tech folks behind the typepad software had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Monday. I spent all day trying to access the blog, and I suspect I was not the only one. It now seem that all is better, and so I plan to return to regular programming. But I first wanted to extend my apologies to any and all reader who, like me, got really tired of seeing loading errors instead of this blog yesterday.

May 20, 2014 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

"Top 50 Criminal Law Blogs"

The title of this post is the heading of this posting at the website "Criminal Justice Degree Schools." I am not exactly sure if the site's rankings are definitive, but here is how it introduces the list:

We have organized the best criminal law blogs on the Internet and ordered them based on popularity according to third party sources.* These blogs provide excellent commentary and insights into criminal law from the point of view of prosecutors, defense lawyers, and professors. You can also follow these blog authors on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest news in criminal law.

*The order of this list of top criminal law blogs was determined based on website metrics including Page Authority, number of websites linking to the blog, MozRank, Google PageRank, and Domain Rank. The data is taken from third party sources including, Google, and

If you click through to the list, you will quickly see why I am partial to the rankings. More importantly, I find this whole list a very valuable resource for those interested in keeping up with criminal justice blogging.

April 1, 2014 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Friday, October 25, 2013

Heading to law school alma mater for (rescheduled) reunion weekend

I am likely to be off-line much if not all of the next few days as I head up to Boston to attend my 20th reunion at Harvard Law School.  I find it hard to believe it has been two decades since I graduated, and the weather forecast suggests I will have a good excuse to use the HLS tunnels to get around just like old times.  I am not sure how many reunion events I will attend, but I am looking forward to showing my kids around Boston and Cambridge.

Notably, even this post has a criminal justice story behind it: this reunion weekend was originally schedule from this Spring but had to be cancelled because it was slated for the weekend that the hunt for the Marathon bomber had essentially shut down Boston.

October 25, 2013 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Monday, October 14, 2013

In praise of student-assembled reading lists for law school seminars

I am using this space to promote and praise a law school teaching technique that I keep using to good effect in my "hot topic" seminars.  Starting this week, the students in my Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform seminar are "taking over" the class and classroom by selecting topics of special interest to them and assembling readings to provide the basis for our classroom discussions of these topics.  I am posting these student-assembled readings over at Marijuana Law, Policy and Reform, and the first set of readings covers tax issues.

I had students assemble readings for a death penalty seminar to great effect a few years ago, and I was moved by the first collection assembled in my marijuana seminar to do this post of praise.  I am finding, yet again, that law students are consistently able to find lots of on-line, user-friendly readings on law and policy topics (and, wonderfully, often draw on primary materials other than SCOTUS cases and on secondary materials other than law review articles). 

Cross-posted at PrawfsBlawg.

October 14, 2013 in On blogging, Preparing for pot professing, Recommended reading | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Please welcome (and often visit) the new Civil Rights Law & Policy Blog

It is with great joy and pleasure that I get to promote a great new blog just started by a great former student of mine, Andrew Ironside.  Andrew explains in this first post, some of his primary plans and aspirations for his new Civil Rights Law & Policy Blog:

CRL&P’s goal is to provide an open space for discussion of civil rights and constitutional law issues.  CRL&P’s analyses will focus on contemporary civil rights debates and the concomitant coverage of these conflicts by the press and the academy.  Further, CRL&P will also highlight historical examples of civil rights disputes as they relate to our current understanding of these issues.

CRL&P also hopes to serve as a resource for anyone interested in learning more about this robust and important area of the law.  In particular, CRL&P will provide daily news rundowns; and, it will highlight forthcoming, newly-released, and generally interesting scholarly works relevant to CRL&P’s areas of inquiry.  Visitors are encouraged to visit CRL&P’s resource page.

CRL&P also welcomes debate — comments and criticisms are encouraged, and responses to both specific CRL&P posts and the blog as a whole are appreciated.

Additionally, CRL&P will consider submissions for guest posts. While the scope of civil rights and civil liberties provides virtually limitless opportunities for inquiry, potential guest contributors are encouraged to consider CRL&P’s goals before sending submissions. Similarly, there is no limit to the length of guest posts. But, potential guest contributors ought to consider the blog format before clicking “send.”  Submissions should be sent here.

The editor is Andrew M. Ironside, a graduate of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  Ironside’s academic interests include civil rights law, election law, the First Amendment, and the right to vote. Currently, with support from the new Institute for the Study of Democracy at Ohio State, his research focuses on the right to vote as protected First Amendment speech (more forthcoming).

I have had the pleasure to work with Andrew on a variety of projects, and his prior work history in journalism as well as his interest in the intersection of civil rights and criminal justice leads me to urge fans of SL&P to make regular visits over his new Civil Rights Law & Policy Blog.  Indeed, here are just a small sampling of the many interesting posts one will find at that space already:

October 10, 2013 in Collateral consequences, On blogging, Recommended reading | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Friday, June 07, 2013

Welcome to the blogosphere: "The Civil-Criminal Distinction Blog"

I am pleased to learn that the idea of academics starting new blogs about legal issues has not yet become passé, as evidence by this new blog titled "The Civil-Criminal Distinction Blog."  This title, obviously, reveals the planned focus for this new blog, but this about page provides these additional details about the author and his plans:

My name is Alexander Blenkinsopp.  I am a graduate student at Harvard University.  You can e-mail me at

This blog is dedicated to documenting and analyzing the blurry distinction between civil law and criminal law.  I intend to use this space to call attention to interesting scholarship on the topic, to highlight current news involving the civil-criminal distinction, to discuss cases implicating this subject, and to share my own thoughts on the issue.  I welcome comments, both on the blog itself and via e-mail.  My introductory post provides more information.

The modern regulation of sex offenders seems likely to be a frequent topic on this new blog, as evidenced by these two recent substantive posts:

June 7, 2013 in On blogging, Procedure and Proof at Sentencing, Purposes of Punishment and Sentencing, Sex Offender Sentencing | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Monday, February 25, 2013

Another notable sign of our modern legal on-line times (and a suggestion)

Gannett HouseVia the always timely How Appealing, I came across this new Harvard Crimson piece headlined "Harvard Law Review Increases Online Presence." Here is the heart of the report:

The Harvard Law Review will more than double the number of editors focusing on online content for the publication next year in an effort to expand its web presence.

Increasing the online staff from two to five, these new editors will join the Forum Committee, which is responsible for developing the website and editing the material published online.  In the next year, the Law Review hopes to enhance the functionality and design of its website in addition to increasing the quantity of published content, according to second-year Law School student Gillian S. Grossman ’10, the recently elected president who will lead 127th Volume of the organization....

The majority of returning editors voted to add two additional students to this year’s pool of rising editors in order to expand the online content while maintaining the quality of the current print operations, according to Grossman.

The Law Review will also grow the amount of material published online in an effort to increase the resources available for scholarly research.  “The Law Review recognizes that legal conversations and legal scholarship are taking place online in addition to print mediums,” Grossman wrote in an email.  “The Law Review’s Forum provides a platform for authors to engage with the articles we publish in our print issues and to engage with current legal developments through various forms of online scholarship.”

In line with this mission, the Law Review began publishing its print materials online in 2006.  The organization also created a “Forum” section on its website where contributors can write exclusively online content.  In the past, these articles have come in the form of “Responses,” approximately 2,500 word pieces written in response to articles published in the print journal.  With the new push towards expanding the Law Review’s web presence, the “Forum” will also begin publishing “Reactions,” shorter pieces commenting on recent developments in the law, as well as other scholarly essays.

I am always quite pleased to see any and all efforts from the folks at Gannett House to continue to innovate with the form and function of modern legal scholarship.  And, ever eager to encourage my favorite kinds of engagement "with current legal developments through various forms of online scholarship," I will make one big suggestion for the new HLR leaders: try to use the new on-line spaces to try to cover much more state "developments in the law" both legislative and judicial (and, to make me really giddy, give special attention to state criminal justice developments).

February 25, 2013 in On blogging, Recommended reading, Who Sentences? | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Welcome to the blogosphere Judge Richard Kopf via "Hercules and the Umpire"

Kopf640x800I am so very pleased and intrigued to be able to report that one of my very favorite district judges has now decided to get more actively involved in one of my very favorite activities. Specifically, U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Kopf has started this notable new blog under the notable name "Hercules and the Umpire."

Judge Kopf's first big post is titled "The Who, the Why and the Title of this Blog," and here are excerpts which highlight why I am so excited to follow what Judge Kopf does in his new cyber-space:

The Why

About seven years ago, a bright law student asked me about blogging and that exchange became part of a blog.  See Ian Best, Judge Richard Kopf (D. Nebraska): Legal Blogs Will Fill the Practicality Gap,

The student asked me whether I would consider blogging.  I answered this way: “If I were to write my own blog, it would have something to do with what it means to be a federal trial judge on a day-to-day basis. I am not sure, however, that I want to reveal that much about myself.”

I am now on senior status, and with that change in status (plus advancing age) my reticence to blog has lessened.  I think I have something worth writing about.

I am very interested in the role of judges and particularly the role of federal trial judges. So, that is what I will write about in this blog.

As an aside, even though I am a senior judge, I still have an active caseload.  Thus, I must not comment upon pending or impending matters. I will strive hard to live up to that restriction.  Fair warning: nothing I write about in this blog should be taken as a comment upon those forbidden areas.

The Title

I hope the title evokes an image of two poles.

On the north, we have the late great Ronald Dworkin’s all knowing judge, Hercules.

On the south, we have Chief Justice Roberts’ formulation of the judge as umpire.

I am interested in knowing (1) which pole is the better and (2) whether there is a longitude and latitude between those poles that locates the proper role of a federal trial judge.

February 24, 2013 in On blogging, Who Sentences? | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Thursday, January 03, 2013

"How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown?"

The question in the title of this post is the headline of this interesting new web-based project now up at Slate.  Here is how authors Chris Kirk and Dan Kois explain the project:

The answer to the simple question in that headline is surprisingly hard to come by.  So Slate and the Twitter feed @GunDeaths are collecting data for our crowdsourced interactive.  This data is necessarily incomplete.  But the more people who are paying attention, the better the data will be.  You can help us draw a more complete picture of gun violence in America.  If you know about a gun death in your community that isn’t represented here, please tweet @GunDeaths with a citation. (If you’re not on Twitter, you can email  And if you’d like to use this data yourself for your own projects, it’s open.  You can download it here.

January 3, 2013 in National and State Crime Data, On blogging, Who Sentences? | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Some holiday-themed sentencing headlines for Festivus celebrants

FestivusI am not sure if there is any enduring importance to the stories linked below, but they all caught my eye today as I was making my usual review of sentencing headlines via Google news. 

Especially if one is celebrating Festivus today and is eager to have a special criminal-justice-portion of the traditional "Airing of Grievances", I suspect the stories below might make for helpful holiday dinner table conversations.  Indeed, though there are a number of serious (and not-quite-so-serious) stories lurking behind the various headlines below, I think we could have an amusing Festivus contest involving Feats of (intellectual) Strength by seeing who can come up with the most clever "Onion-type" story to accompany one or more of these headlines:

Happy Festivus one and all.

December 23, 2012 in On blogging, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Should high-profile prosecutor have a high-profile social media presence?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this St. Louis Post-Dispatch article. The piece is headlined "Tweeting the law: St. Louis prosecutor gets praise and criticism," and here are excerpts:

She delivered her first tweet with gusto. “I know I’m getting to this party 5 years late but Hello Twitterverse!” Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce announced in a March 23, 2011, post, adding a #JMJ stamp to make it official.  From there, the St. Louis prosecutor — who until then preferred sticking to the confines of the courthouse — developed a loud and unabashed presence on the social networking site.

With daily, sometimes rapid-fire online messages, Joyce began announcing charges and sentences.  She expanded to Facebook, telling the stories of crime victims and neighborhood action.  She eschewed traditional news releases in favor of teasers linked to court documents on her website.  She rallied citizens and threatened criminals.

“Bad guys take heed: Lafayette Park folks WILL catch you & they WILL go to court to get your bond raised. Saw this today!” she tweeted in June 2011.  And in January: “Carl Barnes & David Townes came to City to steal dumpsters. Both now charged with felony stealing. Stay out of our town! #WELOVESTL.” 

At last check, Joyce had tweeted 2,557 times to 1,628 followers, and 917 people had subscribed to her office’s Facebook page.... [E]ven in the age of online everything, it is less common to see a prosecutor so prolific on these sites, and mixing personal with professional.

While Joyce has been praised for engaging the community, her musings — particularly the tone of them — have raised eyebrows in the buttoned-down legal community, where lawyers’ comments are bound by strict limits to protect the rights of the accused.  Twice this year, Joyce’s courtroom opponents have complained to judges in formal motions that she crossed the line....

On her Twitter page, Joyce juxtaposes case information with shout-outs to her husband and cheers and jeers on Notre Dame game days.  After reaching the 1,000-follower mark, she tweeted about a cupcake giveaway.  She praises police and neighborhood groups who show up to court. “It is very powerful in informing and engaging citizens to get involved in public safety issues in their community,” she explained.

Her message to criminals is pointed: Shape up or ship out.  “Stanley Bailey assaulted an 80 yr old lady & stole her purse,” she tweeted on Oct. 25.  “He now has 20 yrs to ask himself why he’s a jerk.”  In another: “Don’t threaten police with a weapon, unless you want to be shot AND charged with a felony (unlawful use of a weapon), like Carl Evans was today.”

The Facebook page, a collaboration of Joyce and her staff, has narratives of closed cases, crime-fighting tips and profiles of police and court players.  Those narratives are often dramatic, with talk of “bad guys” and the innocent victims they prey upon.  In one poignant exchange, she explained to the family of a traffic fatality why she could not file a manslaughter charge....

Joyce is not the only top prosecutor who tweets or finds friends on Facebook.  Charles Hynes, district attorney from Brooklyn, N.Y., and Craig Watkins, his Dallas counterpoint, are among many with a more neutral tone, offering posts that function as mini news releases about events and appearances.  They rarely talk about specific cases.

One exception is Ray Larson, district attorney in Lexington, Ky. Joyce has said on her Twitter page: “If you like tweeting prosecutors, you’ll love @raytheda. Much spicier than me!”  Larson displays a Superman-like emblem and likes to comment about “thugs, hoodlums and outlaws.”

Michael Downey, a lawyer specializing in ethics at the Armstrong Teasdale firm in St. Louis, said everyone should beware of the basic hazards of social media: It’s easy to be impulsive, the message reaches a broad audience and the words linger to haunt the writer later.  Beyond that, Downey emphasized, lawyers — especially prosecutors — have a special obligation not to publish something that might influence a jury and deprive a defendant of a fair verdict. “It’s a huge potential problem,” he said, and one that pops up increasingly. Ethics violations could lead to reprimand, suspension, or in more serious cases, disbarment....

Mary Fox, head of the public defender’s office here, complained in a court motion after prosecutors opposed a gag order in the Ronald Little rape case.  Fox said Joyce’s tweeting, in general, had created “a heightened public condemnation of the accused.” That wording reflects a Missouri ethics rule on pretrial publicity.  Fox wanted to prevent any tweets about Little’s case.  The motion never received a ruling.

In June, an assistant public defender asked a judge to dismiss rape charges against his client, David Polk, after Joyce tweeted about it on the eve of trial.  Joyce continued to tweet through jury deliberations, noting that she could never defend a child rapist.  The judge denied the motion, but did question jurors extensively about whether they had seen the tweets, according to Fox....

Joyce said she is careful not to include her opinions on active cases, speaking only to what is in the public record.  The ethics rule is posted on her website, and her Facebook page reminds that defendants are innocent until proven guilty.  She noted no ethics complaints have been filed against her.  “I’m an elected official and I’m put in this position by the people of St. Louis, and I think they have an expectation that I’m going to inform them of what’s going on,” Joyce said. “To suggest I don’t have the right to speak to my bosses — the citizens of the city of St. Louis — is kind of crazy.”

December 4, 2012 in On blogging, Web/Tech, Who Sentences? | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Friday, August 10, 2012

ABA Journal looking for nominations for its Blawg 100

I received via e-mail this request from the ABA Journal:

We're working on our annual list of the 100 best legal blogs, and we'd like your advice on which blawgs you think we should include.

Use the form at this link to tell us about a blawg ... that you read regularly and think other lawyers should know about.  Or if you don't have particular blawgs in mind but think blawgs from a certain practice areas should be represented in the Blawg 100, you can use this form to let us know. 

Send us a separate message for each blawg you want to support.  We may include some of the best comments in our Blawg 100 coverage. But keep your remarks pithy — you have a 500-character limit. 

Friend-of-the-blawg briefs are due no later than 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 7, 2012 [and] by all means tell your readers about Blawg 100 Amici and invite them to send us messages....

August 10, 2012 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Hearty welcome to a timely new blog: "Juvenile Justice Blog"

I am very pleased to welcome to the blogosphere Juvenile Justice Blog, a fantastic looking new blog by UNC law prof Tamar Birckhead.  Here is how Tamar, whose blog bio is available here, describes her new blog creation:

The purpose of this blog is to provide a central source for the latest news, information, scholarship, and commentary on issues related to juvenile justice in the United States.

It is intended for lawyers, academics, advocates, students, and all others interested in juvenile court practice, the fair sentencing of youth, and the criminalization of poverty, among other related topics.

If you would like to see something posted that fits within these themes, please email the blog administrator at  As this is a work in progress, I welcome your thoughts, suggestions, and comments.

There is already a lot of great content on JJB.  And with a big SCOTUS ruling on the constitutional of juve LWOP coming wihtin the week, I am sure to make JJB a daily read in the weeks ahead.

June 23, 2012 in Offender Characteristics, On blogging, Recommended reading | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Huge thanks to Prof Bibas for his Machinery (and seeking feedback on guesting)

I am so very grateful  pleased that Professor Stephanos Bibas served as such a dynamic guest-blogger to discuss sentencing issues raised by his terrific new book, titled "The Machinery of Criminal Justice," which was just published by Oxford University Press and is available here.  I will in this post link below to my introduction and then to all seven of Stephanos's substantive posts:

I hope that readers enjoyed this series of posts as much as I did.  I also hope folks will take a moment to add thanks for Stephanos's efforts via the comments and that folks will let me know if I should try to make a habit of soliciting folks to guest-blog about a recent sentencing project or to develop a series of posts around a particular topic.

April 1, 2012 in Guest blogging by Professor Stephanos Bibas, On blogging | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Notable new blog on wrongful convictions

Cgswc-md_logo-for-webVia e-mail, I received this note from Professor Mark Godsey concerning a notable new criminal law blog:

I wanted to let you know that several of us involved in the Innocence Movement launched a new blog today, The Wrongful Convictions Blog.  The web address is, or you can just click the link above.

The purposes of the blog are to (1) provide one place where you can go to get all the news and info about wrongful convictions, and (2) foster discussion, debate, and learning.  You will see that we have contributing editors from all over the world, thus the tagline is:  "Addressing Wrongful Conviction and Actual Innocence Issues in an International Forum."  There is a place for comments and debate on each post....

The blog will involve more than just news and links.   We will also have frequent commentaries/editorials on various topics, such as the commentaries up now about forensic odontologists attempting to validate their "science," the state of junk science generally, reacting to prosecutorial misconduct, and conviction integrity units at prosecutor's offices.

A quick review of the new blog shows right away that there will be lots of notable and important internation perspectives covered in this space.  That reality, together with the terrific group of persons involved with the blog, means I will be sure to make this new resource a regular stop in my blogosphere travels.

February 21, 2012 in On blogging, Recommended reading | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Many hats for this road warrior...

over the next few days. I have my policy work hat on today as I head to the US Sentencing Commission to testify this afternoon. Then I will be wearing a real lawyer hat in DC briefly tonight before changing into an ivory tower outfit as I head down to Miami to participate in a two-day death penalty conference.

I expect blogging will be light through the weekend, though I hope to have some mid-travel reports to share.

UPDATE Friday mid-day: I am on-line with my laptop for the first time since Thursday AM, and I have so much to say about the remarkable USSC hearing that took all day on Thursday.   I fear I won't have time to share post-hearing comments until the weekend, but I recommend all federal sentencing fans find the time to review the testimony from the hearing (linked via the official agenda here).

I am now in sunny and warm Miami being hosted at this amazing symposium on "The Future of the Death Penalty."  Perhaps later tonight (or perhaps not), I will tear myself away for a little late-night blogging.

February 16, 2012 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lots of sentencing news of note via The Crime Report

As I have said before, and as I am happy to say again, all sentencing law and policy fans should be sure to make The Crime Report a daily read.  To reinforce this point, check out just some of these new posts from over there in the last 24 hours:

January 11, 2012 in On blogging, Prisons and prisoners | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Seeking guest posts for 2011 sentencing "Year in Review" posts

When time and energy permits, I have had a habbit around the holiday season to develop some "Year in Review" kinds of posts for this blog (often with always-fun Top 10 lists).  Examples can be found from 2004 here and from 2005 here and here and from 2006 here and from 2007 here and from 2009 here and from 2010 here (I am not sure what the heck happened in 2008).

Time and energy may allow another such post in the weeks ahead, but this year I thought it might be fun and informative to encourage interested folks to send me fodder for guest posts in the "Year in Review" spirit.  I neither expect (nor really even desire) folks sending me comprehensive lists on all sentencing fronts, but I would especially welcome targeted year-end review (or even next-year preview) posts on particular topics. 

With luck, lots of different folks can and will send me via e-mail some (cut-and-paste- friendly) copy that reviews, say, the federal sentencing year or the drug sentencing year or the celebrity sentencing year or the legislative developments of the year or whatever else you might be interested in sending my way. 

December 15, 2011 in On blogging, Recap posts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Once again, I would like to thank the ABA and the criminals and their lawyers...

12CVRimageAs I have said before and will say again, it is always an honor just to be nominated.  But, since the ABA's Blawg list nominations are not generally made public, it is even more exciting to win again -- for the fifth year in a row, I believe -- a (coveted?) place on the ABA's list of the best legal blogs. 

This report from the ABA Journal, titled "The 5th Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100," reports the background and the list:

On our 5th birthday, you’ll see some familiar faces at the party: bloggers who’ve been on our list in years past.

But 2011 also brought along a lot of newcomers, and we’re delighted that so many RSVP’d our invitation to nominate their favorites.  We received more than 1,300 Blawg Amici this year, and that made for a hard time narrowing the field to 100 law blogs in 12 categories.

As usual, we couldn’t help mixing things up a bit.  In print, you’ll find the blogs in alphabetical order, color-coded by category. And as always, you can vote for your favorites online through Dec. 30 at

Here is how this site gets described:

Sentencing Law and Policy:

Ohio State law professor Douglas Berman notes congressional hearings, scholarship and general trends related to sentencing, and sometimes handicaps the sentences that can be anticipated by those convicted in high-profile criminal cases. Unlike most criminal law bloggers, he writes with a fairly objective tone.

Speaking fairly objectively I kind of like this description of my writing: "with a fairly objective tone."  I wonder if all readers would agree.  And, via this ABA page, one can click through to see a bunch of other criminal law blogs making the list that, apparently, write in a fairly subjective tone.

December 1, 2011 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (26) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 24, 2011

So very thankful for so much this Thanksgiving

I have so much to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving 2011, I do not even know where to start.  I do know that today is an especially good day to be thankful that most Americans will spend today reflecting on how much they have to be thankful for in this wonderful nation rather than spending so much time complaining about this or that.  

I know that I (and many others) do a fair share of complaining on this blog, but that goes with the lawyering territory: I often tell my law students that one of the greatest aspects of being a lawyer is that you get paid for complaining.  But, I am thankful that I have been successful as a professional complainer, and I hope readers know that much of my complaining on this blog about US sentencing law and policy is based in my belief that the greatest nation in human history can and should always be striving to be even greater in its commitment to human freedom and to fostering a national environment that enables all to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

November 24, 2011 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sentencing Mad Max finally able to say thanks

After a whirlwind sentencing road warrior three days which included three amazing sentencing get-togethers in three different locations (in three different federal circuits), I am finally back at my home office with a few free moments that finally allow me to say a hearty thanks to all the amazing people who helped put together three amazingly effective and engaging events.  My head is still swimming with all that I learned at each of the events; I am also still giddy not only about victories by the Cards and the Buckeyes while I was a road warrior, but also about the fact that I was able to get out of Philly and home to Ohio in the midst of the October(!?!) snowstorm that has hit the East Coast this weekend.

So much happened at each of the events — and so many people were responsible for treating me so well — that I am certain I will not be able to effectively blog about everything worthy of commentary nor will I be able to adequately thank and congratulate all the lovely people responsible for my terrific experiences.  I can here report, however, something that ought to especially intrigue regular blog readers: for the very first time, I finally met the man behind Supremacy Claus in person (at the Penn Law Review event on Saturday)!

October 30, 2011 in On blogging, Who Sentences? | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sentencing road-warrior...

is what I am calling myself as I travel to three distinct locales to participate in four distinct sentencing events over the next 55 hours.  I fear blogging will be very light during this time, though I am hoping to have a little down time to report on any major sentencing news before the weekend.

October 27, 2011 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Monday, September 26, 2011

Great new Rutgers resource reviewing crim books

Via Professor Stuart Green, I am please to be able to relay this notice concerning what looks like a great new criminal justice researcher and reader resource:

Rutgers Law School-Newark and the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice are pleased to announce the launch of a new website called Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books.   We aim to publish high-quality, timely, and concise on-line reviews of important and interesting new books in criminal law, criminal procedure, and criminal justice. 

Among the great looking new books subject to great looking reviews are:

September 26, 2011 in On blogging, Recommended reading | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, July 04, 2011

An Independence Day open thread seeking comments on liberty and freedom in the US

Blogging has been light this holiday weekend as I have been enjoying sun, family, fireworks, tennis, golf and lots of company (not necessarily in that order). But the morning of July 4 gets me to my computer for a few minutes to link to my prior Independence Day blogging and to urge readers to use this space to comment on the state of liberty and freedom in the United States.

Prior July 4 posts:

July 4, 2011 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

In Massachusetts to talk about federal sentencing at my alma mater

I am about to go off-line for the day because I have the pleasure of spending the afternoon and evening in (rainy) Cambridge, Massachusetts because of a kind invitation to participate in an event organized by the Harvard Law School Chapter of the American Constitution Society."  Here is the official event announcement:

Tuesday at 7PM in Ropes Gray (Second Floor of Pound Hall) at Harvard Law School:

Judge Nancy Gertner & Professor Douglas Berman


“The New Sentencing Regime — Or Not!”

Come join two amazing speakers for dinner and a conversation about the future of sentencing in the federal system, touching on issues ranging from the crack/cocaine-powder disparity to child pornography, immigration, and white collar crime.  Judge Nancy Gertner is one of the nation’s leading progressive district judges and will join the HLS faculty next fall as a Professor of Practice.  Professor Douglas Berman, HLS ’93, maintains the Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, edits the Federal Sentencing Reporter, and regularly participates in high-profile sentencing litigation throughout the country.

I think this event is open to the public, so if you are in Cambridge and want a sentencing-related excuse to get out of the rain, head up Mass Ave this evening.

April 5, 2011 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

For those listening to the federal sentencing AFDA web program today...

apologies for the technical glitch.  Apparently, too many people tried to sign on to the program at once, and we managed to crash the Adobe server (which said it could handle 500 folks).  I am flattered to discover more than 500 people tried to log-on hear what I had to say with the help of the AFDA, but I am really sorry that we got cut offjust over half-way into the 90 minute program.

Thankfully, the folks at AFDA are going to put this program together again next week so I can finish discussing all topics we had planned to cover.  As of this writing, the plan is to try again next week (Wednesday, Feb. 23) at 12noon EST.

February 16, 2011 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Welcoming "Law and Biosciences Daily Digest" to the blogosphere

I am extremely pleased to see that Professor Nita Farahany has started this great new blog which is to provide "relevant summaries of legal opinions (civil and criminal) in which cognitive neuroscience or behavioral genetics evidence has been introduced."  As Nita notes here, in recent years "at least 2-3 opinions per day are published in which cognitive neuroscience or behavioral genetics evidence has been used."

I will be checking this new blog regularly, in part because the headings from many case digest entries spotlight that a lot of this action has sentencing elements:  "Brain Dysfunction and Capital Mitigation" and "Neuropsychological Testing, Civil Commitment, and Sexually Dangerous Individuals" and "Brain Dysfunction and Cruel and Unusual Punishment."

February 10, 2011 in Offender Characteristics, On blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, January 31, 2011

Spending the day at John Jay...

in the Big Apple to participate in the 6th Annual H.F. Guggenheim Symposium sponsored by The Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  I suspect I will be off-line most of the day, but I hope to get a chance to blog about the event upon my return home tonight.

UPDATE:  A liveblog summary of the great activities as this event yesterday can be found on this page at The Crime Report.

January 31, 2011 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Monday, December 13, 2010

Supreme Court Justices are now doing reading on iPads and Kindles, when will law students?

The question in the title of this post is prompted by this new video from a portion of a C-SPAN interview with new Justice Elena Kagan. The video is titled "Justice Kagan on Using a Kindle to Read Briefs," and in the segment Justice Kagan reports on how she uses the Kindle to read all the SCOTUS briefs, and also discusses that Justice Scalia has his briefs on an iPad. (Hat tip: How Appealing.)

In a series of posts about technology and legal education over at the blog Law School Innovation (where I am cross-posting this post), I have suggested that the advancement of new reading technologies will at some point transform legal education. I articulated the point this way in this post after first seeing the iPad in action earlier this year:

[A] casebook-friendly e-tablet is only the tip of the new media iceberg that could be facilitated by an iPad or some other tablet that becomes to casebooks what the iPod became to vinyl records.  Of course, just as record companies (and some artists) resisted music being packaged and distributed via new media, casebook publishers (and some authors) may resist legal materials being packaged distributed via new media.  But, as the iPod and the DVR and other digital innovations have demonstrated, a better means to distribute content digitally will eventually prevail over analog precursors.  The iPad may not prove to be the casebook tipping-point technology, but it seems to me to be only a question of when, not whether, the traditional casebook will go the way of vinyl records and VCR tapes.

When traveling to speak at various conferences, I have noticed more and more lawyers with iPads and other e-readers. I expect that buzz about the Justices reading briefs on e-readers might add even more juice to the on-going digital revolution in the collection and distribution of legal materials. And if law schools do not get with the program soon, I fear we will be doing even worse than usual in training the next generation of lawyers.

Though this post fits better at my Law School Innovation blog, I have cross-posted it here because I am eager to hear from practitioners about their use of technology (and whether there are any particular technologies that a criminal law professor ought to make the focus of more student instruction). In addition, I have to assume that it is only a matter of time before we have a federal sentencing guidelines app.

December 13, 2010 in On blogging, Technocorrections | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Monday, November 29, 2010

SL&P honored again by ABA Journal's list of Blawg 100


I am once again very pleased and very honored to report that this blog has once again been selected as one of the ABA Journal's Blawg 100.  I am grateful that ABAJ's annual list of the best of the blawgosphere has included this blog every year now for four years running. Here is how the ABA Journal describes my blog this year in its Criminal Justice category: "Ohio State University law professor Douglas Berman posts several times a day, keeping 'sentencing fans' updated on the latest news stories, commentary, cert grants, rulings, argument transcripts, research and scholarship on criminal penalties." That sounds about right.

Here is how the ABA Journal, which again has devoted its December cover story to the blawgosphere, describes its latest listing of top law blogs:

In our 4th annual Blawg 100, we organized a bit differently and created some new categories.  Yet we know that many blogs defy categories.  We have a "lighter fare" grouping, but you can find witty and funny blogs in any category.  More of our readers had a hand in the selections this time around: We received more than 1,250 blawg amici, or friend-of-the-blawg, nominations; you'll see some of the testimonials on the pages that follow.  This year, more bloggers embraced Twitter, though law profs are trailing the pack.

In addition to thanking the ABA Journal for giving me this honor each year, I want to again thank all the readers and commentors who always (and in various ways) help me find the energy (and often the insights) to keep this blog going. I genuinely believe I remain energized to maintain this blog largely because I so greatly enjoy the engagement, and still learn so much, from readers and commentators concerning the array of topics I discuss.

November 29, 2010 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Off to DC to participate in ABA's "Sentencing & Reentry Institute and Criminal Justice Legal Educators Colloquium"

I am closing out a exciting (but really long) week by heading inside the Beltway this evening in order to attend and participate all day tomorrow in the the American Bar Association's "Third Annual Sentencing & Reentry Institute and Criminal Justice Legal Educators Colloquium."  All the details of this amazing event can be found in this brochure, and I am hoping to learn some blog-worthy stuff while in DC.

Because I have never been very good at that whole live-blogging thing, I doubt I will have many posts about the conference until the weekend. But I am expecting to have some new insights on how the new post-election political landscape might impact directly sentencing law, policy and practice in the months ahead.

November 4, 2010 in On blogging, Who Sentences? | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Monday, October 11, 2010

New blog examining the "intersection between criminal law and emerging technology"

I am pleased to learn about this new blog, intriguingly named "Stockycat," which is "focused non-exclusively on the intersection between criminal law and emerging technology" and says it is "[d]edicated to the idea that effective law enforcement is not incompatible with a vigorous interpretation of the Fourth Amendment."

Among the many notable features of this new blog that makes it worth watching is the public policy AND government lawyer AND prosecutorial background of its author, Joshua Engel.  Here is how the author describes his background on this blog:

I am a Fellow with the Ohio State Bar Foundation. In addition, I have been honored as a recipient of a Harry S Truman Scholarship for Public Service.  I recently served as Chief Legal Counsel for the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

Prior to joining the Department of Public Safety, I was one of the most respected and successful felony prosecutors in Ohio.  In 2007, my work as a prosecutor was recognized by a Meritorious Service Award from the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association.

I began my career as a prosecutor by serving under current Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in Middlesex County, Massachusetts.  I started my legal career at Choate, Hall & Stewart, a large Boston law firm. 

Though the blog seems focused at the start on Fourth Amendment issues, I am hopeful that we will before long see posts about GPS tracking of released offenders and/or internet restrictions as a form of punishment and/or restitution as a punishment simply for downloading child porn and/or any of the many other sentencing law and policy issues that arise at the "intersection between criminal law and emerging technology."

October 11, 2010 in On blogging, Technocorrections, Who Sentences? | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Monday, September 06, 2010

Is blogging now officially a "mainstream medium"?

The question in the title of this post is inspired by this new piece in The National Law Journal, which is headlined "Law School Report: A look at professors who have made blogging a mainstream medium." I am flattered and honored to be included among the impressive list of lawprof bloggers profiled by Leigh Jones in the article, which starts this way:

Somewhere between fusty law treatises and Twitter lie law blogs, many of them written by the top legal scholars in the country.  Just five years ago, the notion of law professors delivering quick and cogent commentary to the masses — with the opportunity for instant feedback, no less — was a novel concept.  Today, it is rare for law schools not to have at least two or three professors on faculty who regularly tap away at their blogs, often with their morning cup of coffee or after they've put the kids to bed at night.

The National Law Journalhas profiled some of the pioneers in law blogging. Their online endeavors keep readers current on topics ranging from Sixth Amendment rights to tax law, from faculty appointments to securities fraud.  Their work has given legal scholars a greater voice in the public forum and brought recognition to the schools they represent.

I ask the question in the title of this post because I am wondering if I now need to consider myself part of the MSM.  To quote a great Seinfeld episode, "Not that there is anything wrong with that."

September 6, 2010 in On blogging, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Thursday, August 05, 2010

A comment on comments

One of my favorite real-world lawyer readers, who is also one of the most thoughtful and helpful commentors, wrote me this note via e-mail today:

Doug, is there anything you can do to eliminate comments from folks who are deterring participation on the blog?  I have no enthusiasm to make a comment, knowing that some vitriolic attack will follow.  Bummer, your blog is some of my favorite reading.

I trust the few bad apples that are spoiling the comments for other members of the bunch will make a real effort to play at least a bit nicer in the comments.  I have very little interest in (and even less time to) police what gets said in the comments, and I know from experience that the comments can and should be a useful (and enjoyable) aspect of this blog.  

I am hopeful that this comment will encourage a bit more civility in the comments.  Also, I urge readers to consider using the comments to this post to express their take on whether and how the comment section of this blog adds or detracts from their reading experiences.  If lots of folks say that open comments do more harm than good, I can and will shut off the blog's comment feature.

August 5, 2010 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (62) | TrackBack

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Thanks, (slow) readers, for helping to make this blog among the very "stickiest"!

To understand what the post title means, check out this post and the law prof blog rankings from Paul Caron at TaxProf Blog.  And I am really grateful for all my readers (whether they read slow or fast), and also for all the commentors and those who send me materials to ensure I continue to enjoy very much being "stuck" with this blog.

July 8, 2010 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Thursday, June 17, 2010

So much going on today...

I am a bit overwhelmed.  My day will be consumed with the US Sentencing Commission conference in New Orleans (basics here).  But I have a nagging feeling that the Supreme Court will do something notable this morning that will draw me back to the computer at some point before the day is out.  (SCOTUSblog is, of course, the place to keep up with what the Justices do today.)

And, of course, tonight we have the rare event of a NBA Final's Game 7, and the US Open gets going at Pebble Beach.  My cup runneth over. 

Predictions, anyone?

June 17, 2010 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, June 07, 2010

"[M]ost law reviews are simply a waste of trees"

The title of this post (which is cross-posted at LSI) comes from the last phrase of this amusing and effective commentary by Professor Gerald Uelmen in the June 2010 issue of the California Lawyer.  (Hat tip: C&C.) The piece is titled "The Wit, Wisdom, and Worthlessness of Law Reviews," and here are a few snippets:

During California's legal "golden era" of the Gibson and Traynor Courts in the 1950s and '60s, law reviews were cited with increasing frequency. In a classic study of the authorities cited in California Supreme Court opinions, Stanford law professor John H. Merryman counted 164 law review citations in the court's 1970 opinions, a "sharp increase" over previous years (Merryman, "Toward a Theory of Citations," 50 S. CAL. L. REV. 381 (1977)).

I did my own count recently of the California Supreme Court opinions published during the past five years that relied on law reviews as authority: There were just six.  This despite — or perhaps because of — the fact that law reviews have tripled in number since the 1970s.  The 20 ABA-accredited law schools in California now publish a total of 82 law reviews. UC Berkeley's alone publishes 14, while Stanford and UC Hastings each publish 9.  Both law professors seeking tenure and law students seeking employment at elite law firms eagerly fill these volumes.  But who reads them now? Surely not the judges who decide the law. And not practicing lawyers either.

As Adam Liptak of the New York Times observed a few years ago, "Articles in law reviews have certainly become more obscure in recent decades.  Many law professors seem to think they are under no obligation to say anything useful or to say anything well.  They take pride in the theoretical and in working in disciplines other than their own.  They seem to think the analysis of actual statutes and court decisions — which is to say the practice of law — is beneath them."...

Of course, there are still a few law professors who would rather publish for practicing lawyers and judges than just for other professors. But given the way the academic game is played these days, they do so at their peril — particularly if they are seeking tenure. Still, law reviews are in no danger of disappearing anytime soon.  After all, big law firms and elitist judges continue to demand "law review experience" as a prerequisite for hiring.  The publication of student notes also provides a vehicle to enhance badly needed writing skills for barely literate law students.  But in terms of contributing to the profession, most law reviews are simply a waste of trees.

To put a little sentencing spin on this effective attack on modern law reviews, I wonder how many of the "20 ABA-accredited law schools in California [that] now publish a total of 82 law reviews" have produced articles discussing the dysfunctionality of California's state sentencing system or the profound legal issues that surround its long-lasting prison over-crowding problems.  I know of a few strong "local" pieces on California's three strikes law and other local topics, but not as many as are justified or needed for the legislators, courts and practitioners struggling daily with these issues.

As readers of this blog know, there are an array of interesting and important (and theoretically sophisticated and challenging) issues surrounding California's sentencing law and policy that merit extended and repeated coverage in law reviews.  And I am proud to note that one of the law reviews that I edit, the Federal Sentencing Reporter, has this new issue on "California's Corrections Crisis."  I am thus glad that Professor Uelmen says only that "most" not "all" law reviews are a waste of trees.  (And, of course, no trees were killed or even hurt in the production of this blog post.)

June 7, 2010 in On blogging, Recommended reading | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Does anyone have any experience with the BlogWorld conference?

BlogWorldLogo20%E2%80%A6E_RGB_250px I just got an e-mail inviting me to take advantage of early bird registration for the 2010 BlogWorld & New Media Expo and Conference taking place this October in Las Vegas.  Since I am always eager to have an excuse to go to Vegas and since I am also eager to figure out a way to take my law blogging to another level (whatever that means), I am thinking seriously about trying to make it to this event.

I am a bit concerned, however, that this BlogWorld event may be more geared to techies and others more interested in marketing than in content creation and dissemination.  Consequently, I am posting here (and in some other blog locales) this bleg for information and feedback on the BlogWorld experience.  Relatedly, I filled out a form to offer to be a speaker at the BlogWorld event (which would make registration free and likely could have other benefits), and I would love to hear from anyone as to whether trying to speak at this event sounds like a sensible idea.

June 3, 2010 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Friday, May 28, 2010

Going back, going back...

Keepin-it-rio-7-9-16final Among the many reasons I have been pleased with the last thee Supreme Court nominees is the interesting common fact that they all graduated from Princeton University, which just happens to all be my alma mater.  Indeed, I am very soon to be going back to Old Nassau for a long weekend of festivities.  Though I hope to be on-line every so often, blogging will likely be light until Tuesday.

I have the honor to be on an Alumni-Faculty forum panel on the topic of "Civil Liberties in the Obama Administration" taking place starting at 10:30am on Saturday, May 29 in McCosh 28 on the Princeton University campus.  I plan at that forum to continue complaining about President Obama's failure to make any use of his historic clemency powers and to lament more generally the very little amount of "hope and change" that the Obama Administration has so far brought to modern federal criminal justice system.

Rumor has it that Mrs. Michelle Obama, who this year is due to celebrate her 25th reunion from Princeton University, is not making it up to New Jersey to join in the traditional Princeton reunion festivities.  Too bad, as I was eager to see what it would be like to see members of the US Secret Service marching in the (in)famous P-rade.

May 28, 2010 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Great coverage of sentencing issues at FAMM's new blog, SentenceSpeak

I am pleased to seem that the folks at Families Against Mandatory Minimums have their new blog, SentenceSpeak, up and running and it looks like it is on a steady path to being a daily must-read for all sentencing fans.  As described to me by one of the progenitors, FAMM's goal "is to create a forum where we can talk about mandatory minimums and other sentencing policies and invite others to participate in that discussion ... and to reach out to people who may know nothing about sentencing, or who may be 'unlikely allies' in the sentencing reform effort."  

Here are links to some of the interesting early posts on this new blog:

May 27, 2010 in On blogging, Recommended reading | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Blogging's virture (and partisanship's vice) given the value of "ideas having sex"

This terrific piece in the Wall Street Journal, which is headlined "Humans: Why They Triumphed," provides an enjoyable and stimulating read. The piece is full of fascinating ideas about human progress and intellectual evolution, while also coining my latest favorite term "ideas having sex."  Here are snippets from the start and end of the piece that showcase its key ideas:

Human evolution presents a puzzle. Nothing seems to explain the sudden takeoff of the last 45,000 years — the conversion of just another rare predatory ape into a planet dominator with rapidly progressing technologies. Once "progress" started to produce new tools, different ways of life and burgeoning populations, it accelerated all over the world, culminating in agriculture, cities, literacy and all the rest. Yet all the ingredients of human success — tool making, big brains, culture, fire, even language — seem to have been in place half a million years before and nothing happened. Tools were made to the same monotonous design for hundreds of thousands of years and the ecological impact of people was minimal. Then suddenly — bang! — culture exploded, starting in Africa. Why then, why there?

The answer lies in a new idea, borrowed from economics, known as collective intelligence: the notion that what determines the inventiveness and rate of cultural change of a population is the amount of interaction between individuals.  Even as it explains very old patterns in prehistory, this idea holds out hope that the human race will prosper mightily in the years ahead — because ideas are having sex with each other as never before....

There's a cheery modern lesson in this theory about ancient events.  Given that progress is inexorable, cumulative and collective if human beings exchange and specialize, then globalization and the Internet are bound to ensure furious economic progress in the coming century — despite the usual setbacks from recessions, wars, spendthrift governments and natural disasters.

The process of cumulative innovation that has doubled life span, cut child mortality by three-quarters and multiplied per capita income ninefold — world-wide — in little more than a century is driven by ideas having sex.  And things like the search engine, the mobile phone and container shipping just made ideas a whole lot more promiscuous still.

Though this WSJ piece can be assessed and explored in many ways, my first follow-up thoughts produced the title of this post.  In light of this provocative article, I would contend that a chief virtue of sophisticated blogging (and maybe even unsophisticated blogging) is that it provides a convenient setting and cost-effective means for ideas having sex.  Relatedly, I would contend that a chief vice of partisanship and group-think is that it can impede ideas from having sex (and can make it seem politically unsafe for ideas from warring factions to have sex).  Continuing the sexual metaphor, I may start calling blogging Viagra for ideas (and start calling partisanship idea VD).

May 22, 2010 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Monday, May 17, 2010

Some commentary from around the blogsphere on Comstock and Graham

Cruising around the blogsphere has reveals this array of early commentary on the Supreme Court's criminal justice work in Comstock and Graham today:

And a bunch of different folks at The Volokh Conspiracy already have all this commentary to share on Comstock:

May 17, 2010 in Assessing Graham and its aftermath, On blogging, Who Sentences? | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New blog with "open source sentencing pleadings" for white-collar cases

An old colleague I have come to know from various sentencing settings, Benson Weintraub, has launched this new blog to provide open source access to his "favorite presentence and appellate pleadings" as well as "legal and social commentary on white-collar crime." Readers will not be surprised to know that I am a big fan of lawyers providing effective access to legal materials, and I encourage everyone to check out this new blog (and perhaps consider starting others).

May 16, 2010 in On blogging, White-collar sentencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, April 09, 2010

Post number 10,001 of this blog...

will apparently be this post noting this this is my 10,001 post since starting this blog just under six years ago with this first post on May 14, 2004.  That first post concerned the then-new report issued by the commission created by then-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney concerning how to try to create a nearly "foolproof" death penalty system for the state. 

As the early archives of this blog show, my initial plan for this space was to do just a few posts each week with links to new reports and articles that did not get much attention (and were hard to find) elsewhere.  In fact, over my first six weeks of blogging, I averaged only three posts per week, and only two of my first 18 posts referenced a court ruling (one of which was this post speculating about a possibly big pending SCOTUS case).

But six weeks into this blogging experiment, the Supreme Court handed down its remarkable Blakely ruling, and this blog took a more manic (and case-centric) turn.  Perhaps fittingly, I am noting a blogging milestone one post later than I expected because I had to give my 10,000th post to announcing the official retirement of whom I regard to be perhaps the "greatest" sentencing Justice of all time.

April 9, 2010 in On blogging, Who Sentences? | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Just bought an iPad...

in order to discover how blog friendly it will be. I probably won't get a chance to use it until Sunday, but will file a blog report.

UPDATE:  I am disappointed to discover that the ability to pick up a weak WiFi signal is not very impressive on the iPad.  Therefore, until I get back to a WiFi friendly location on Monday, iPad blogging will have to wait.

April 3, 2010 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Not-quite-random mid-day blogger/tech comment

Jobsx-wide-community It has taken me only a few minutes to decide that I now want and need an iPad, though I am fearful (or perhaps hopeful) that the new Apple gizmo will be much better for reading blogs than for writing them.

Also, I am also already thinking about whether an iPad and other forthcoming like technologies might alter the resource and technology universe for lawyers, law professors and law students. 

I have never tried to do any kind of legal research or legal writing on my Droid smartphone, and I suspect that there are relatively few smartphone apps that are truly helpful to the average lawyer or law student.  In addition, I have been disappointed by the potential for my first-generation Kindle to be a means or medium for me to do professional reading of cases and other legal materials.  The Apple folks are touting the iPad as having some of the best aspects of modern e-readers and modern netbooks.  If this is true, I can readily imagine the possibility of an iPad with applications that are especially lawyer-friendly and lawyer-useful.

Thoughts, dear readers?  Is anyone (other than me) eager to read this blog on an iPad?

January 27, 2010 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Welcome to the blogosphere the "Prison Law Blog"

A law and history student at Stanford sent me this note about Prison Law Blog, a new blog that she has started:

I remember reading a post on your blog a while back in which you encouraged more bloggers to start narrowly focused criminal justice related blogs, and I have decided to focus on jail and prison reform efforts (e.g., legislation, conditions of confinement lawsuits, prisoners rights campaigns, etc.).  Although there are now many very useful and well-done criminal justice related blogs already out there, I am hoping that this is a specific area where more focused blogging might be of interest.

For now the posts are mostly links (with some commentary), but in the future I am hoping to add more original content including updates on prison reform litigation and legislation around the country, and Q & A features with lawyers who work in this field.

Huzzah and welcome!

January 23, 2010 in On blogging, Prisons and prisoners | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Monday, January 11, 2010

Off to the Big Apple

As the Supreme Court gets back in action today, so too do most law school semesters.  And this Spring, I am a visiting professor at Fordham Law School in NYC.  I hope to find time to blog about a few sentencing issues specific to the Big Apple, though I doubt my work in this cyber space will be nearly as different as my work in real space over the next few month. 

January 11, 2010 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Will any new electronic device be especially blog-friendly?

I am going to go off-topic just a bit to seek reader reflection on whether any of the new and in-development mobile electronic devices seem especially blog-friendly for blog authors and blog readers.  I love both my (first-generation) Amazon Kindle and also my new Droid, but neither device makes blog posting easy or enjoyable.  And though I can read others' blogs on both devices, I also much prefer blog reading on a traditional PC.

Thus, as I read this new New York Times piece headlined "A Deluge of Devices for Reading and Surfing," I find myself particularly interested and concerned about whether any new form of electronics will be distinctively blog-friendly.  Here is the start of the NYT piece:

You’ve heard of’s Kindle. And you probably know that Apple is likely to introduce a tablet computer this year. Soon you may also be hearing about the Alex, the Que proReader and the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid.

Those products are part of a new wave of slender touch-screen tablets and electronic reading devices that dozens of companies, both well known and unknown, brought to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

Some of these gadgets allow people to read for long periods of time without eye strain and without killing the batteries.  Others focus on allowing their owners to surf the Web, watch video and play casual games without being tethered to a bulky laptop and its traditional keyboard.

“There are a billion and a half Internet users on the planet today, and a lot of them are primarily using it for entertainment and social networking,” said Glen Burchers, director of global consumer segment marketing at Freescale, a chip company hoping to power the new tablets.  “The PC does a good job on a lot of things, but it’s just not the ideal device for surfing the Internet or reading.”

Perhaps because I am old and have a status quo bias, I do think it is the case that the PC right now is the best way to both write and read blogs.  But perhaps readers have others experiences, and I hope folks will share thoughts on this tech-topic.

January 9, 2010 in On blogging | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack