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February 15, 2008

Notable new resource for those working on crack resentencing

The Center for Community Alternatives (CCA), which seeks to "promote reintegrative justice and a reduced reliance on incarceration through advocacy, services and public policy development," now has on its website an interesting new resource for federal defense attorneys.  This new document is titled "Entitled The Importance of an Individualized Assessment: Making the Most of Resentencing Under the Amended Crack Cocaine Guidelines," and it suggests resentencing strategies and issues.  The document covers a lot of federal sentencing ground, and here is how it revs up:

Combined, Gall, Kimbrough, and the Sentencing Commission’s decision provide a wonderful opportunity for those convicted of a federal crack cocaine offense to receive significant reductions in their sentences. But the Commission has sought, in several ways, to limit the sentence reductions available to individuals convicted of a crack cocaine offense.  A full understanding of the possibility available to such individuals, and the problems with the Commission’s attempted limitations, requires some discussion of Gall and Kimbrough.

February 15, 2008 at 10:44 PM | Permalink


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I understand defense counsel's obligation to represent their clients zealously. I understand the defense bar's frustration at the fact that neither Blakely/Booker nor their progeny have been applied retroactively. But to argue that the extremly limited authority/opportunity granted by the USSC and 18 USC 3582 can somehow be leveraged into a full resentencing strikes me as EXTREME overreaching. Even aside from the notion that sentence reductions under 3582 and a reduced guideline are matters of "legislative grace", is it fair to make this argument from which ONLY crack offenders will benefit? Whether perceived as fair or not, the Courts have uniformly held that Booker is not retroactive. Indeed, in recent testimony before the Senate, the ABA representative testified against the "floodgates/adminstrative inconvenience" argument made by the DOJ rep. He "pooh-poohed" the notion that full resentencings would be sought in thousands of cases, stating that the notion has only been partially accepted by only the Ninth Circuit. If the defense bar is successful in this endeavor, let me suggest that they may win the battle, but lose a much larger war. It would make it much less likely that Congress will ever allow ANY future guideline reductions and, in my opinion, will provide ammunition for those who want to make sentences even tougher. Again, I recognize that the defense attorney must seek the most relief s/he can for their client. It's just that, from a systemic point of view, this might be a pyrrhic victory.

Posted by: anonymous | Feb 16, 2008 12:03:25 PM

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