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August 6, 2010

Another judicious comment from the judiciary on Judge Kopf's "Brief and Modest Proposal"

Regular readers may recall this engaging post from last week concerning providing federal sentencing data for particular judges, titled "'A Brief and Modest Proposal' ... an original essay from US District Judge Richard Kopf."  That post in turn prompted a detailed response from another federal district judge, US District Judge Edmund Sargus, which is reprinted in full in this post.  Both posts have generated a lot of terrific comments (see here and here), including one that I received via a cc:d e-mail from a circuit judge that I have been permitted to reprint:

Dear Ed,

I read your letter to Professor Berman in his blog.  I liked what you wrote.

Here's another thought.  As was the case pre-guidelines, let the probation officer get all the statistical information he/she can on sentences imposed by other federal judges on somewhat similarly situated offenders.  Let the probation officer and judge visit and discuss what would be fair in the circumstances.  Let it be a sentence resting on an informed discretion.


Myron H. Bright

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Absolutely rational idea except for the fact that many probation officers charged with preparing the PSR are in bed with the prosecutor who has already pulled every trick in the book to insure that the maximim sentence is imposed.

Posted by: No Trust | Aug 6, 2010 10:13:29 AM

I appreciate that these judges are willing to put forward their suggestions publicly for how to improve the system. This airing of views, to the point of disagreement, is not something that we see very often, but I, for one, greatly appreciate it.

Thanks to Prof. Berman for making it possible.

(And no, I'm not sucking up; I don't expect to appear in these judges' courtrooms ever. I really mean it.)

Posted by: Mark Pickrell | Aug 6, 2010 10:14:03 AM

Outcomes of judicial decisions. Let them guide subsequent decisions. Good concept, with nearly universal support in all other professions and services.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 6, 2010 11:40:18 AM

From the late 70s thru the mid 80s, I worked as a federal prosecutor in the Eighth Circuit, and had many opportunities to argue appeals before Judge Bright. He was amazing then......he remains amazing today. All of us, both prosecutors and defenders, should feel blessed that he is still at it.

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