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March 29, 2007

Judge Adelman does case-specific Booker justice again

US District Judge Lynn Adelman, continuing his strong post-Booker work in cases like Greer (discussed here) and Smith (discussed here), has released a new sentencing decision in which he attempts to "refract" the concerns with the 100:1 crack/powder cocaine ratio through an individual defendant's case.  Here is one of many strong passages in Judge Adelman's decision in US v. Willis, No. 04-CR-190 (E.D. Wisc. Mar. 28, 2007) (which can be downloaded below):

The rule that emerges from Jointer, Gunter and Pickett is that while district courts may not construct their own alternative crack/powder ratio, neither are they required to impose a sentence under the current 100:1 ratio in the guidelines.  Further, they can, in imposing an appropriate sentence in the individual defendant's case under § 3553(a), consider the Sentencing Commission's reports on the problems with the crack guideline. Finally, they may consider whether the aggravating circumstances that prompted the adoption of the 100:1 ratio are present in the case before them.

Download latest_adelman_sent_memo.pdf

March 29, 2007 at 10:26 AM | Permalink


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I liked Adelman's similar opinion in US v. Reid, No. 06-CR-221, 2007 WL 895829 (E.D. Wis. Mar. 22, 2007).

Although the defendant ultimately got a sub-Guidelines sentence, Judge Adelman was careful not to use Gunter and Pickett as a flimsy excuse for going easy on all crack defendants:

[After discussing Pickett, Gunter, and the Seventh Circuit's cases]In the present case, while defendant noted some of the general problems with the ratio, he did not convincingly relate them to his case. To be sure, his range would have been lower had the substance involved been powder cocaine, but that is true in all crack cases. [Followed by discussion of why the concerns about the crack guidelines don't apply with any particular force in Reid's case]

Judge Adelman went on to give the defendant a sub-Guidelines sentence based on the parsimony provision and the judge's opinion that the Guidelines range was a bit greater than necessary to deter Reid from future violations. The opinion leaned heavily on the parsimony provision and did not go into a diatribe on general policy arguments about crack. Great stuff.

Posted by: anonymous | Mar 29, 2007 12:07:54 PM

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