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February 19, 2008

One federal district trying a single judge approach to crack retroactivity

This new article in the Kansas City Star, headlined "Sentence corrections possible in crack cocaine cases," reveals that one federal district has adopted an interesting (and legally questionable?) approach to crack retroactivity matters:

Late last month, Chief U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan issued an order establishing the sentence-reduction procedure for western Missouri. Requests will be funneled to U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith, who will make the final decisions after receiving input from a public defender, two prosecutors and several U.S. probation officers....

The [US Sentencing] Commission estimated last year that about 3,800 inmates nationwide could be released within a year after the decision takes effect March 3.  In western Missouri, about 60 inmates could be released in the first few years.

The sentence reductions are not automatic. A variety of factors, including public safety considerations, will play a role in whether an inmate qualifies, said Kevin Lyon, the chief probation officer in Kansas. Lyon said his office will notify Smith of any public safety questions that arose either at the offender’s initial arrest or since incarceration. Gregg Coonrod, an assistant U.S. attorney who is handling claims for the government, said his office also would watch for inmates who could present a problem on their release. “We’ll argue over the ones who are worth arguing over,” Coonrod said.

February 19, 2008 at 08:08 AM | Permalink


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» Weekend News Roundup: February 19, 2008 from ACSBlog: The Blog of the American Constitution Society
A roundup of news from this past weekend. Trial judges often rely on their intuition resulting in preventable mistakes, LegalBlogWatch reported. Law.com examined whether TV shows are responsible for the public's distrust of lawyers. Slate discu... [Read More]

Tracked on Feb 19, 2008 12:13:38 PM


I think the text of the order should be posted. In my understanding this panel is an initial screening process of some kind.

Posted by: S.cotus | Feb 19, 2008 11:37:58 AM

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