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April 2, 2010

Another court exressly embraces 1-to-1 sentencing ratio for all crack sentencings

While Congress is in the midst of considering how to adjust the mandatory minimum statutory sentencing terms for crack offenses (background here and here), another federal district judge earlier this week formally explained in US v. Greer, No. 6:09-CR (E.D. Tex. Mar. 30, 2010) (available here), that he "will use a 1-to-1 ratio for this and all future crack cocaine cases, and mitigating and aggravating factors under 18 U.S.C. ยง 3553(a) affecting sentencing will be separately considered on a case-by-case basis."

I learned of this Greer ruling thanks to this posting via the Dallas Morning News, which also reported on additional federal judges who have adopted this approach in other parts of Texas:

While Congress works on legislation to correct the historic inequity in federal crack cocaine sentencing -- a person convicted of crack cocaine possession gets the same mandatory jail time as someone with 100 times the same quantity of powder cocaine -- federal judges have begun to mete out their own fairer sentences.

Locally, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas and U.S. District Judge Terry Means in Fort Worth have sentenced crack defendants on a 1 to 1 ratio, said Richard Anderson, head of the federal public defender's office for the Northern District of Texas. U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn has "reached the equivalent result through use of a variance, but I don't believe she stated the ratio on the record," he said.

This past Tuesday, on March 30, U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis in Tyler became the first judge in the neighboring Eastern District of Texas to issue such a sentence, according to an alert sent out by Kenneth Hawk, with the federal defender's office in Tyler.

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April 2, 2010 at 10:56 PM | Permalink


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To have drug sentences handed out in this freakish fashion might be characterized in a number of ways. "Equal justice under law" is not one of them.

I trust those currently gong ga-ga over judges making up their own sentencing ratios will be equally enthusiastic when a more anti-drug judge decides that in his courtroom, the ratio will be 200-1. Under Booker and Spears, so long as the resulting sentence is within the statutory maximum, the defendant is stuck. Spears in particular makes the point unambiguously.

You wanted luck-of-the-draw sentencing? Welcome to it. But no hypocritical whining when your much beloved "judicial discretion" comes back to bite YOUR client.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 3, 2010 11:54:18 AM

All this disparity would have been avoided if the Booker Court had just chosen the proper remedy for the constitutional violation: jury findings on offense-related sentencing factors using a BRD standard.

Posted by: law123 | Apr 7, 2010 2:14:01 PM

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