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January 29, 2009

A reward for checking this blog regularly...

in the form of being among the first to know that we do NOT have class on Friday, January 30.  (I am in Califorina for this Stanford Law Review symposium, so I have to cancel.)  I planned to annouce this at our class on Wednesday, but the snow got in our way.

Sorry for the slow start to the semester, but you can/should make up for lost time by keeping up with sentencing news at Sentencing Law & Policy and/or by commenting on the cases flagged here.

Stay warm and enjoy the SuperBowl.  And get geared up for an exciting sentencing February.

January 29, 2009 in Class activities | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

January 25, 2009

Two intersting opinions on sex and drugs from two different appeals courts

This week we will start to apply some of our lessons about the challenges of sentencing theory (Chapter 1 of our text) to the story of who sentences (Chapter 2 of our text).  To get a running start on this topic, and also to further everyone's interest in sentencing stories surrounding sex offenders and drug offenses, I offer here links to two really fascinating opinions handed down this week from two different appellate courts.  Though reading these new cases is not technically "required," I will happily make either (or both) of these cases the focal point of discussion in coming classes if students express an interest in them.

First, from the First Circuit, we get US v. Perazza-Mercado, No. 07-1511 (1st Cir. Jan. 21, 2009) (available here), which covers (frequently litigated) issues surrounding broad conditions of supervised release for a federal sex offender. The start of the majority opinion sets out the basic issues:

This case requires us to address the validity of two conditions of supervised release imposed on a defendant convicted of unlawful sexual contact with a minor.  The first condition prohibited the defendant from having any access to the internet at home during the fifteen-year supervised release period. The second condition prohibited the possession of pornography generally.

Second, from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, we get Harris v. Wisconsin, 2009 Wisc. App. LEXIS 39 (Wisc. Ct. App. Jan. 21, 2009) (available here), in which a Milwaukee man convicted of selling cocaine got his sentence reversed because the judge who sentenced him referred to the man's "baby mama" and asked him where "you guys" find women to support them while they stay home.

January 25, 2009 in Interesting new cases | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 20, 2009

Please turn in pre-class questionnaires ASAP

As of this writing, I have only received eight questionnaires with ranked purposes and proposed sentences for Richard Graves and John Thompson.  Class will be aided greatly if I get more of these forms before 12 noon on Wednesday so I can calculate "results" before our class.


January 20, 2009 in Course requirements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Some thoughts about sentencing law and policy for Inauguration Day

For those in an Inaugural mood today, here are some posts/links from my other blogs that might be worthy of your time and attention (and commentary):

In addition, I have lots and lots of transition-related sentencing posts in this category archive, titled "Criminal justice in the Obama Administration."

January 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 14, 2009

Express strongly-held beliefs in the comments here...

in order to allow everyone to read/reflect on some of the beliefs we hold as we start the class.  Ideally these beliefs will be related to sentencing and/or criminal justice topics, but other strongly-held beliefs are welcome.  Comments can be signed or anonymous, as you deem fit and appropriate. 

I will start with two of my strongly-held beliefs to get us started: 

1.  Very few people have completely thought through all the implications of their views about the death penalty.

2.  Very few people are really, truly interested in sentencing equality if/when equal treatment would mean that most everyone is treated worse (but all are treated equally badly).

January 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Earn extra credit: note/link/discuss sentencing topics raised during AG-nominee Holder's confirmation hearing

As some of you may already know, President-elect Barack Obama last month nominated Eric H. Holder Jr. to be the next Attorney General of the United States, and Holder's Senate confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin Thursday morning at 9:30 am.   The hearings can be followed via webcast through this official webpage of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where one can also find lots and lots and lots of documents and letters concerning AG-nominee Holder's background and professional history. 

With the exception of the President and perhaps swing-vote Supreme Court Justices, the Attorney General of the United States is probably the single person most able to influence national criminal justice policy and practice.   For that reason and others, students concerns about racial and socio-economic inequality in the operation of the criminal justice systems should note that (1) Holder would be the first African-American AG if he is confirmed, and (2) that, according to this recent AP article, Holder "will earn $4.6 million from his law firm this year and next, including deferred compensation and a separation payment. "

I have done a lot of Holder-related posts over at my main blog (many of which I have linked below).  These posts should give you a sense of some of the sentencing-related issues that may (or may not) arise during his confirmation hearings.  Students interested in earning early extra credit can/should use the comments to note and discuss any sentencing topics that arise during these hearings (and/or link to news accounts about the hearings).

Some posts at SL&P on the Holder pick for Attorney General:

January 14, 2009 in Who decides | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Any early concerns, questions, curiosities about class requirements or expectations?

Because I got so into our collective introductions and overview dialogue, I forgot to leave time for students to ask any questions or express any concerns about the class requirements and my expectations.  Most of the basics should be covered in the course description, but I will be sure to start our next class next Wednesday by providing an opportunity for course questions/concerns.

In the meantime, any and everyone is welcome to post questions or concerns in the comments to this post.  And if the questions or concerns center on the assignments for next week, let me just reiterate that everyone needs (1) to finish and then submit the pre-class questionaire, (2) consider posting comments to the newer posts on this blog, and (3) read (and re-read) as much of Chapters 1 and 2 in the text as possible before our class on January 21.

January 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack