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March 9, 2015

Links to all the key guidelines for modern FSG sentencing of Rob Anon

With apologies for the delay, I will now finally through this post provide some hints and help for sentencing Rob Anon under the modern federal sentencing guidelines.  Here are links to the key provisions of the "official" on-line version of the now-applicable US Sentencing Guidelines as provided on the US Sentencing Commission's website:

I highly encourage class members to start working through these "basic" federal guideline sentencing materials on their own (and then use the comments to express frustration) before looking for any more sentencing help.  That said, if (when?) you want/need some more help, here is a link to a worksheet created by the US Sentencing Commission intended to aid in the guideline sentencing process:

As you work through this assignment, please feel free use the comments to express what it feels like to sentence in the federal system now that a whole lot of law has been brought into the process.   

Though I continue to hope I am doing a good job with my low-stress, high-learning class mantra, it is very important in my view for everyone to get through the Rob Anon guideline sentencing experience ASAP; having done so will be essential to getting the most out of our classes the rest of this month. If you have already done this exercise, do it again and/or review your work.  If you have not done it yet, please do. 

March 9, 2015 in Class activities, Guideline sentencing systems | Permalink


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I found using the federal sentencing system to be incredibly impersonal. Using the guidelines sentencing felt more like solving a math problem than determining a just result. I also found it interesting that very little of the offender's background is considered when determining mitigating factors. This must have been very difficult for some individuals which gave Rob a comparatively low sentence when discretion was unlimited due to his background.

Posted by: Josh Eckert | Mar 9, 2015 10:05:13 PM

I didn't see a meaningful difference between 2B3.1(2)(C) and 2B3.1(2)(D), which are the provisions for "brandishing" a weapon or the "otherwise used" provision involving a weapon. "Otherwise used" is not included in this section's definitions.

Moreover, the fact pattern seems to indicate that the origins and current location of the getaway car are unknown, yet the guidelines want to add 2 base levels if the car was stolen. These base levels add up, so if I'm a prosecutor I'm going to try to do everything possible to obtain that information, although at that point it may be insignificant if Rob Anon is going away for so long. Overall, I was shocked at the sentence the guidelines made me give, and didn't get to put any of his personal background facts to good use, which also bothered me.

Posted by: Kelly Flanigan | Mar 10, 2015 9:58:02 AM

Wow. This was absurd. The guidelines seemed to be purposely poorly and vaguely written so I was unsure of which provisions to apply to Rob. For instance, with regards to the victim, did it matter whether Rob actually caused the injury? Or just that a person was injured? I also agree with Kelly - I could not differentiate between "brandishing" v. "otherwise used." Additionally, factors that were considered seemed to be extraordinarily skewed towards aggravation of the offense rather than mitigation, which I suppose makes sense in scheme created in the '80s Reagan crime scare era. An unsurprising lack of clarity and objectivity for a set of rules intended to provide clarity and objectivity.

Posted by: Ethan Clunk | Mar 10, 2015 10:50:44 AM

I honestly would echo everything that has already been said by my classmates and can't agree with Ethan enough that it seemed that the guidelines errors on the side of aggravation and were far less likely to take mitigating circumstances into account. Also, like everyone else the definition for "used" and brandished was an issue. Another definitional/information issue I ran into was deciding the type of injury received by the old man. I personally would error on the side of "serious bodily injury" but I can see how a judge would be able to argue that this injury was permanent or life threatening (or between the two), because a hip injury to an old man can really lead to some serious medical issues and significantly impairs their ability to move around. Furthermore, if the broken hip was serious enough that the old man needed surgery there is a heavy danger that an older person would have a greater likelihood of complications.

Posted by: Kristen Maiorino | Mar 10, 2015 12:43:31 PM

Not directly related to Rob Anon, but more generally, the difficulty in deciding what kind of sentence to hand down using the guidelines, and also the increased harshness in penalties for killing law enforcement officials.

See this article about a man being sentenced for 17 3/4 - 44 years for killing a police dog in alleged self-defense. He will almost certainly appeal the sentence, and has ten day to file that motion. PA Governor Tom Corbett signed "Rocco's Law" into action before losing the most recent election to strengthen penalties on killing police animals.http://www.wtae.com/news/trial-continues-for-man-accused-of-killing-pittsburgh-police-dog/31712600.

Posted by: Kelly Flanigan | Mar 10, 2015 6:16:46 PM

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