« Weekend round-up of array of prison stories and commentary in incarceration nation | Main | "Unconstitutional Incarceration: Applying Strict Scrutiny to Criminal Sentences" »

May 30, 2020

"The Case for a Federal Criminal Court System (and Sentencing Reform)"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new article authored by Christopher Slobogin now available via SSRN. Here is its abstract:

This article proposes the establishment of a federal criminal court system, comprised of separate criminal trial courts, circuit courts of appeal and a National Court of Criminal Appeals, with discretionary review by the Supreme Court.  Compared to the 1970s, when there were many fewer cases per judge than there are today, federal criminal adjudications take twice as long, magistrates take on much greater adjudicatory load, and appellate courts much more frequently forego oral arguments, rely on legal staff, and issue unpublished opinions . A specialized judiciary would significantly enhance trial court efficiency and appellate court capacity to produce quality decisions.  Furthermore, because there would be a superior appellate court devoted to ensuring uniform nationwide rules, such a system could more easily resolve doctrinal conflict on criminal justice issues than the current system, which relies on a Supreme Court that is failing to address most of the conflicts among the circuits. 

Perhaps the most important potential benefit of a division of the civil and criminal systems, however, is that the civil system would function more efficiently once criminal cases, which have docket priority at the trial court level, are diverted.  This article also proposes that this separate federal criminal court system return to a more indeterminate sentencing regime that would shift much of the heavy lifting regarding criminal dispositions from judges to expert parole boards.  This proposal would also lessen the appellate workload and ensure that trial judges in a specialized criminal court are not debilitated by the psychologically demanding analysis that currently accompanies sentencing.

May 30, 2020 at 11:59 AM | Permalink

Comments

How about we just gut 18 USC instead and completely rethink federal criminal jurisdiction. And forget about the commerce clause while we're doing it.

Posted by: fat bastard | May 30, 2020 8:12:13 PM

"This article also proposes that this separate federal criminal court system return to a more indeterminate sentencing regime that would shift much of the heavy lifting regarding criminal dispositions from judges to expert parole boards."

History repeating itself.

Posted by: David | May 30, 2020 8:28:52 PM

While it may be repeating itself, I think it's just returning to a mean. Determinate sentencing, the guidelines, and no parole has proven to be an absolute disaster.

Posted by: fat bastard | May 31, 2020 12:22:27 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB