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May 30, 2009

Different perspectives on federal sentencing from different vantage points

As noted in prior posts here and here, this past week the US Sentencing Commission held a public hearing at Stanford Law School.  This USSC webpage showing the agenda and the list of impressive persons who testified now also has links to some of the submitted written testimony. 

Though I am still reading through some of this written testimony, I was struck — though I suppose not really surprised) — by the different points of emphasis in the testimony of Ninth Circuit Judge Richard Tallman and the testimony of Hawaii District Judge Susan Oki Mollway.  Judge Tallman's testimony starts and ends with concerns about sentencing disparities, and he even states that, after Booker, "perhaps judges now have too much discretion."  In sharp contrast, Judge Mollway's testimony is focused on guidelines that seem unduly severe and the fact that mandatory minimum sentences limit judicial discretion and "are frequently unreasonable."

This contrast in post-Booker assessments surely reflects the different institutional perspectives of these judges.  On appeal, circuit judges often hear complaints about sentences that appear disparate and they have an obligation to try to rein in sentencing outliers through reasonableness review; at initial sentencing, district judges often hear complaints about guidelines that seem to harsh and they have an obligation to impose a sentence "sufficient, but not greater than necessary" under 3553(a).

Critically, both comments highlight the central importance of sounder federal guidelines even though they are now advisory.  If the federal sentencing guidelines were to more consistently set sentencing ranges at reasonable and just levels, district judges would more often impose sentences within the guidelines and circuit judges would not have so many outliers to have to try to rein in.

May 30, 2009 at 01:09 PM | Permalink


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Not one single "View from the Wrong End of a Gun." These are all criminal dependent pure evil people. If the criminal is in any inconvenienced, they all make less money. Their money conflict of interest invalidates every criminal lover lawyer garbage utterance. I see them as guideline makers. They have a duty to do no harm. I would like future crime victims to sue the criminal, who is judgment proof. The crime victim should also sue these biased guideline makers, the organizers, and the employers of these totally irresponsible criminal lovers. Because of the conflict of interest, the class of crime victims should ask for exemplary damages. Their employers have $billions in assets, and should disgorge all profits from criminal lover activity.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 30, 2009 5:54:50 PM

There is good connection between the premature release of criminals and highly foreseeable criminal victimization. Although the criminal lover SC has held that the police owe no duty to the citizen, they have yet to hold that guideline makers owe no duty to crime victims. That should be tested. They will claim they are immune under the First Amendment. However, they are not expressing their opinions. They are bossing judges. Bossing a judge is an act, not an expression. Judges should lose all immunities because of their extreme incompetence, and pro-criminal bias.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 30, 2009 5:59:52 PM

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