Thursday, January 13, 2005

Sentencing changed forever!

Major change in federal sentences for crimes!

Booker and Fanfan,

The United States Supreme Court changed federal criminal sentencing and sentences yesterday when it threw out the sentencing guidelines that judges had been required to use prior to yesterday.

An excellent summary of the case is found at

http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/cert/04-104.html

This is the final judicial slapdown to the Ashcroft administration. The Supremes have clearly signaled a greater deference to federal TRIAL court judges, and most of all to juries, the ones who hear the facts and should be the decision makers.

The decision reaffirms that a defendant is entitled to a JURY determination of any fact used to convict or punish him, thereby reaffirming our faith in the jury system.

The decision also rejects and rebukes the Ashcroft amendments to the guidelines that allowed appellate judges to review trial judges decisions to depart. Instead of getting to completely reconsider all of the facts that the tiral judge considered in deciding to depart, appellate judges will now only get to determine if the trial judge's decision was not "unreasonable." This is significant because it puts the decision making power on sentencing departures back where it should be in the trial judges hands.

Chip Venie, Esq.
chipesq@hotmail.com
(619) 235-8300


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