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January 24, 2005

Interesting 2d Circuit (non-Booker) ruling with choice dicta

With thanks to How Appealing for the tip, I can report on an interesting ruling today (by a peculiar five-judge panel due to consolidated cases) from the Second Circuit.  In US v. Alacantara, 02-1010 (2d Cir. Jan. 24, 2005)(available here), the Court finds problematic a district judge's decision to accept a guilty plea and impose a criminal sentence in her robing room.

The decision in Alacantara seems unlikely to impact many cases.  But the following dicta from the Court, used to justify why the "public and press have a qualified First Amendment right of access to plea and sentencing proceedings," seems noteworthy:

A sentencing proceeding is a solemn occasion at which the judge has the weighty duty of determining the fate of another human being.  A transcript of the proceeding does not convey the impact that the judge's words and actions have on the defendant and any friends or family members present.  Furthermore, the ability to see the application of sentencing laws in person is important to an informed public debate over these laws. Observing the effect of laws that expand or contract the discretion of judges in imposing sentences in individual cases may provide a valuable perspective.

January 24, 2005 at 01:30 PM | Permalink


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I thought footnote 10 was kind of interesting as well: "We hold that at resentencing, the District Court shall not impose on Goiry a greater sentence than was previously imposed."

Posted by: Alex E. | Jan 24, 2005 2:00:03 PM

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