Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Blogosphere At The New Year: Back From The Party

I don't know about all of you, but this last week felt like a whirlwind of hello's and goodbyes. It felt like a food orgy too. I am going walking tomorrow just to see if I still can.

In the meantime the blogosphere has been posting everything from Saddam's death to the Duke Rape case. Here are some of my favorites from the week that was, the last week of 2006:

On Tuesday, the Profs over at Crim Profs blog were talking about a potential bipartisan effort to pass the Second Chance legislation that might make it a little easier to help felons on parole succeed in moving on with their lives. Here's a thought on that, how about we get an expungment law on the books in NY?

In Wednesday Professor Berman brought our attention to a really good decision on Booker and the career offender guidelines by Judge Nancy Gertner of the US District Court's Mass.District. The judge evaluated the career offender requirements and noted how in the case before her it meant a big co-defendant disparity as well as a roll disparity and the incarceration of a very elderly defendant. The case is US v. Ennis, No. 03-cr-10298 (D. Mass. Dec. 21, 2006). You can link to the decision from Sentencing Law and Policy's post.

Wednesday also saw the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (F.I.R.E.) release it's end of year report on First Amendment freedoms on campus...pretty dismal reading. Between the Cartoon wars and college newspaper thefts and attacks on religious freedom on public campus's it was a pretty busy year, for Fire Volunteers.

In another example of bad cases making bad law, Talkleft's TChris blogged about a federal judge releasing Major League Baseball Drug testing results to US Prosecutors in the widening Balco Steroid case. Here is the warning quote:

Your employer wants you to submit to drug testing but assures you that the results will be kept confidential. Is your privacy protected? Don't count on it.


On Friday Eugene Volokh asks What's Wrong With Retired Federal Judges Filing a Friend-of-the-Court Brief?. Seems a bunch of former federal judges got together to suggest to the DC Circuit how to decide one of the Guantanamo cases attacking the new military tribunals law. The Circuit felt the judges were trading on their titles as former judges. What is interesting is that the chief judge who opposed taking their former colleagues amicus briefs (which the government did not oppose) was David Sentenelle who always would address Ken Starr as Judge Starr during the Clinton/Whitewater investigation.

On Saturday Harlan Protass over at Second Circuit Sentencing Blog blogs two cases seeking (and getting) significantly below guideline range sentences. Harlan worries that the amount under guidelines will set off an appeal in the Second Circuit.

Harlan is right back to us on Saturday morning with this post concerning whether the Second Circuit panel in United States v. Jones, No. 05-5312-CR, 2006 WL 3687530 (2d Cir. Dec. 12, 2006) has impermissible changed the standard of review of Booker sentences.

Here is the money quote from the decision:

What does the Second Circuit mean when it says it reviews sentences for "unreasonableness"? We know from cases like Fernandez and Rattoballi that the Second Circuit is deferential to sentencing court determinations. But does Jones indicate a higher level of deference? In other words, if the Second Circuit's review is only for "unreasonableness," is the Second Circuit indicating that a sentencing court's sentence is presumptively reasonable? And, if so, does that gut the entire purpose of reasonableness review?


Sunday saw the late night release of Justice Roberts report on the state of the Courts. Roberts basically demanded a raise for judges. I think he makes a very good point. Federal judges earn less than Law Professors and Law school deans. Roerts points out that if we don't start to give raises soon we are going to get judges who are so rich they are not in the same situation as the litigants before them or judges for whom the present salary is a pay raise. He points to the evidence of how many Government lawyers leave to go to the Judiciary. The guys over at the Wall Street Journal talk about it here. They see it differently. At over two hundred thousand a year they feel judges should be thankful for having their jobs.
I disagree and hope that a pay raise will attract some practicing criminal lawyers onto the bench.

Finally there is a rather mystical journey over at Blawg Review 89. Check it out. It was quite the travelogue.

Ok till next time, you can reach us with an email to me at Catlaw1@yahoo.com and enjoy a happy and healthy New Year's Day. Drive carefully.
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