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March 4, 2015

Seeking reflections/reactions to today's pre-reform federal sentencing exercise

We will talk on Thursday about the experience of sentencing Rob Anon under the pre-reform discretionary federal sentencing system, but I wanted to start the process of reflection on the pre-reform system with this post and a place for comments. 

Did your experience strengthen your understanding for Judge Frankel's concerns and call for reform? 

What aspects of the sentencing experience surprised or concerned you the most?

March 4, 2015 in Class activities, Who decides | Permalink


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I had the highest sentence and I just want to explain how I got there (not that I'm necessarily right). I looked at the Bank Robbery years (0-25) and then saw that as what congress would want the courts to implement. 0 years for the bank robber who hardly makes it in the doors before giving up, and 25 for the worst of the worst bank robbers.
Then I looked at what Rob Anon did. He got the co-conspirators. He got the guns, the ski masks, he planned the bank robbery, he got the getaway car, he took $200,000 from the bank and split it among his co-conspirators. He was the leader of this operation. From bank robbers, he was about 80% of the worst thing a bank robber could be. Yes, he didn't shoot up the bank, but he would probably fall closest to the exact actions that Congress wanted to prevent when enacting an armed bank robbery statute. Therefore, I felt that 80% of the maximum sentence, was probably appropriate here for the actions he took upon himself.
I did not concern myself with the fact nobody died. That would be felony murder, and should be assessed independently of "armed bank robbery" because it is a different crime.
However, I anticipated a wide variety of sentences, and while I was not surprised it is concerning that there is little consistency from judge to judge. That makes me feel like the process is less fair for a criminal defendant. This is a difficult position for me because I also like Booker and individualized justice.

Posted by: Chris Santoro | Mar 5, 2015 10:48:17 AM

I was surprised at some of the sentences on the higher end, and would like to have discussed more the motivations behind each person's initial sentence. After reading Chris's comment above, I can definitely understand where he is coming from. He found that the range 0-25 years much more pertinent to his ruling than I did. I looked at different factors, and took Rob Anon's background (both his family life and criminal record) into account more than the facts in this case versus other bank robbery cases. I found that his crimes seemed get more serious and more calculated, and determined that because probation and community service had not deterred him from committing this crime, jail time would be appropriate, but not nearly as much as 20 years.

Posted by: Christina Otero | Mar 8, 2015 12:33:48 PM

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