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March 25, 2008

A judge explains the problem with prosecutorial crack reduction resistance

A helpful reader sent me news of this recent ruling on a crack sentencing reduction motion, authored by Chief Judge James Jones of the Western District of Virginia, which includes this notable footnote:

This district is reported to have the fourth largest number of defendants who qualify for a reduction in sentence under the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s policy on retroactivity of the amended crack cocaine guidelines.  Unfortunately, it appears that the United States Attorney for this district is objecting to reduction in every case, even those which provide for a reduction in sentence of only a few months.  While the Department of Justice opposed the retroactivity of the amended guidelines, once the Sentencing Commission unanimously decided on retroactivity — a decision which Congress has not overruled — a per se objection to reduction does not serve the public interest.  For example, the court is required to consider the public safety in determining whether to reduce a particular sentence, see U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual (“USSG”) § 1B1.10 cmt. n.1(B)(ii) (Mar. 3, 2008), and the government’s blanket objection in all cases does not assist the court in making that decision, and, in fact, hinders it.

March 25, 2008 at 01:55 AM | Permalink


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