Tuesday, August 01, 2006

When A Court Gets IT Right. Stopping The Federal Sentencing Guidelines From Running Amok

From our friends at The Second Circuit sentencing blog:
Judge Rakoff of the US District Court SDNY, was faced with the same issue as described in this post below. A federal prosecutuion of a white collar defendant who materially overstated the financial results for his company. Co-defendants received three (3)months jail. The government asked Rakoff for life imprisionment. Fact is that while some people probably lost a lot of money, nobody died or was tortured of killed or even injured. Life is just an unreasonable sentence for someone who hasn't killed or tried to kill or injure anyone. The details are more appropriate to our Sister blog Long Island (Criminal)Trial Law however Rakoff provides some very good policy arguments that the Second Circuit and Congress as well as the SCOTUS ought to take into consideration before their is a negative reaction to this courts careful consideration of what is a fair sentence.
Money quote:
""To put this matter in broad perspective, it is obvious that sentencing is the most sensitive, and difficult, task that any judge is called upon to undertake. Where the Sentencing Guidelines provide reasonable guidance, they are of considerable help to any judge in fashioning a sentence that is fair, just, and reasonable. But where, as here, the calculations under the guidelines have run so amok that they are patently absurd on their face, a Court is forced to place greater reliance on the more general considerations set forth in section 3553(a), as carefully applied to the particular circumstances of the case and of the human being who will bear the consequences. This court has endeavored to do, as reflected in its reasons set forth at the time of sentencing and now in this Sentence Memorandum prompted by the dictates of Rattoballi. Whether those reasons are reasonable will be for others to decide."

In considering the Booker fix, the courts job is to give a fair sentence. Despite what some appellate courts have said the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are not per se fair. Judge Rakoff's sentence however was very fair.
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