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February 26, 2010

Snow day readings on revising the MPC sentencing provisions

I briefly mentioned at the end of class this past week that the American Law Institute is in the midst of revising the Model Penal Code's sentencing provisions, and that I have been critical of some of the structural changes that the MPC revision is advocating.  If you want to do some snow day reading of my writings on these matters, check out this piece from the September 2009 issue of the Florida Law Review, which is titled "The Enduring (and Again Timely) Wisdom of the Original MPC Sentencing Provisions."

In addition, you can find other terrific (and relatively short) readings on the Model Penal Code's new sentencing proposals in this issue of the Florida Law Review.  As always, comments are welcome and encouraged on these topics.

February 26, 2010 in Scope of imprisonment, Theories of punishment | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 20, 2010

Reconnecting on Feb 24 with the help of lots of notable current events

I have heard great reports about the class this past week from our two kind guest lecturers.  When we (finally!) get the chance to reconnect this coming Wednesday, I would be happy and eager to provide any kind of direct follow-up to what you covered this past week (and students are encouraged to use the this post for any follow-up comments or requests based on the guest presentation).

In addition to any needed follow-up, I plan for this week's class to involve mostly reconnection after we've been away from each other quite a while thanks to snow days and other complications.  Specifically, here are my main agenda items for this week's class on Feb 24:

1.  Confirm due dates and expectations for mid-term assignment and final white-paper

2.  Wrap up focused discussion on the death penalty with emphasis on appreciating the importance (and interplay) of the distinct concepts of discretion, disparity, discrimination and sentencing severity. 

For this part of the class discussion, consider how you (or others) would answer this question: Would you prefer a modern justice system in which the 500 worst murderers each year all got executed or one in which only 50 of these 500 worst murderers were executed, but that some (hard to identify) discriminatory factors will probably play a role in selecting which exact 10% of the worst 500 murderers get executed?

3.  Discuss which (of so many) interesting current-events developments we might want make a special focal point for focused discussion in the weeks before Spring Break. 

For this part of the class discussion, consider these posts of note from around the blogosphere:

As always, students are welcomed and encouraged to get a running start on a discussion of these (and other) topics via the comments to this post.

February 20, 2010 in Class activities, Current Affairs, Interesting new cases, Recent news and developments, SCOTUS cases of note | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 10, 2010

After the snow day... two special guests to talk about federal sentencing practice

During our (cancelled) class on Feb. 10, I was planning to review the basics of federal sentencing law as a prelude to our two pracitioner guests who will be taking over the class on Feb. 17, 2010, when I have to head out of town to participate this symposium about federal sentencing law

Obviously, snow got in the way of my plans.  But I remain confident that our two guests will still be able to facilitate an engaging and informed discussion of federal sentencing practice as long as class members have all read (and re-read) the first part of Chapter 3 in our textbook. 

Also, I can use this space to provide an introduction to our planned guests. Representing the big-firm and/or former prosecutor perspective is Mark D. Harris of Proskauer, whose firm bio includes this description of his practice and background:

Mark D. Harris is a Partner in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution Department and co-head of the Appellate Group.  His practice focuses on appellate litigation, criminal enforcement, and complex civil litigation.  He represents institutional and individual clients in connection with government investigations, prosecutions, and civil disputes, with a special emphasis on sentencing....

From 1997 to 2002, Mark served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, during which he prosecuted a broad spectrum of federal crimes, including health care fraud, financial fraud, and corporate embezzlement.... He has been a member of the Board of Editors of the Federal Sentencing Reporter since 1996 and is a frequent contributor.

Representing the small-firm perspective is Harlan J. Protass, whose runs his own firm with a bio page that includes this description of his practice and background:

Harlan J. Protass is a committed advocate with close to fifteen years of experience representing individuals and corporations in criminal, regulatory and commercial litigation matters.  He has counseled targets, subjects and witnesses in cases involving securities fraud, insider trading, tax evasion, money laundering, antitrust price-fixing, enterprise corruption, embezzlement and larceny, structuring, perjury and obstruction of justice....

As an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and the creator of the Second Circuit Sentencing Blog, Mr. Protass is also a recognized expert in the application of the United States Sentencing Guidelines.  Mr. Protass regularly challenges guidelines calculations and other sentencing factors, and frequently obtains sentences below recommended guidelines.

Mr. Protass previously served as Special Counsel at O'Shea Partners LLP, and as a litigation associate at Squadron Ellenoff Plesent & Sheinfeld LLP and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP.

Students will earn my gratitute (and class participation credit) by using the comment section here to pose some issue or questions they hope to have our guests discuss. 

February 10, 2010 in Class activities | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 9, 2010

Trip now CANCELLED... like our class on 2/10

Though snow has apparently shut down schools for Wednesday, I am still planning to head to the Federal Defenders in the early afternoon (if they will still have me).  Students remain welcome to join me, though I expect I will plan another similar field trip later in the semester so that everyone can enjoy the experience without a worry about snow.  Please let me know in the comments if you are still interest in going with me.

UPDATE:  The federal courts downtown are now closed on 2/10, which means the Federal Defenders' Office is closed, which means our field-trip will need to be another day.  Oh well.  I am shooting for March 10 or March 24 as a make-up date.

February 9, 2010 in Class activities | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack