« How can and should "why punish" issues influence the "who" and "how" of sentencing? | Main | A timely example of a victim seeking sentencing leniency »

January 18, 2018

Diving deeper into "who" and "how" with a little help from a new Massachusetts case

Next week we will continue to discuss the Williams case in order to continue to unpack the relationship between theories of punishment and the "who" and "how" of sentencing.  And, before we wrap up our Williams discussion, I will review what doctrines from Williams remain good law and what do not.  That discussion may lead us to discuss the more modern McMillan and Blakely cases, so be sure to have read those cases for next week.

The McMillan case also brings up the "why" and "who" and "how" of mandatory minimum sentencing.  So be sure to read (and re-read) the selection from the US Sentencing Commission about the debate over mandatory minimums (MMs) and think about who ends up with the most sentencing power in a jurisdiction that makes regular us of MMs.

Last but not least for next week, I hope we can take about the role of crime victims at sentencing and you have a reading selection in the text that covers this part of the who story.  But, conveniently, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court handed down a notable short ruling on these issues just today: Massachusetts v. McGonagle, SJC-12292 (Mass. Jan. 18, 2018) (available here).  Because I so enjoy bringing "hot new cases" into our discussions, I encourage everyone to read this new McGonagle case instead of (or in addition to) the victim-input section of the text.

January 18, 2018 in Class activities, Interesting new cases, Who decides | Permalink


The Massachusetts Supreme Court decision and the victim-input section of the reading instantly reminded me of the current sentencing of Larry Nassar. Over 100 victims have spoken at the sentencing hearings for sexual assault charges. He submitted a letter to the judge after the second day of statements saying it was too emotional and too hard to sit through them. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina stated that she didn't want even one victim to lose their voice. (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/larry-nassar-complains-it-s-too-hard-listen-victim-stories-n838731 )

When I was ordering the principles of punishment, I was alone in putting restitution at number 1. I struggled to place any first, but ultimately when forced to, I didn't feel I could put the rehabilitation or best interest of the offender ahead of the victim. The victims statements from Nassar's sentencing are impactful and difficult, so of course it will be difficult for anyone to sit through -- but if anyone should, it is the individual who created the reality that over 100 women have asked to speak.

Posted by: Shelby Slaven | Jan 20, 2018 1:43:07 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.