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October 3, 2020

Preparing to sentence Rob Anon before (and later after) the enactment of the federal sentencing guidelines

As stressed in class, much of the rest of the semester is going to explore non-capital (and mostly federal) sentencing policies and practice before and after modern guideline reforms.  Our work will start and advance through a deep discussion of sentencing realities faced in sentencing Rob Anon — whose crime and history appear in short form at pp. 205-06 of our text.  We will be exploring the sentencing of Rob Anon in multiple eras: (1) in a pre-guideline world (the world Judge Marvin Frankel criticizes in the excerpt in our text), then (2) in a pre-Booker mandatory federal guideline sentencing world, and then (3) in a post-Booker advisory federal guideline sentencing world.  (For historical reference, era 1 in federal sentencing extended from about 1910 to 1989, era 2 extended from 1989 to 2005, and era 3 has run from 2005 to the present.) 

We will not get started on these topics in earnest until Thursday of this coming week (because we will be watching a documentary on prison history on Tuesday).  But it is not too early for you to get started on thinking about sentencing Rob Anon the pre-reform system, especially because doing so should deepen your appreciation for some of the comments and criticisms of Judge Marvin Frankel about this system (which are required reading and appear in our text at pp. 126-131).

So, imagine yourself as a federal district judge in 1972 presented with the Rob Anon case for sentencing.  The only key legal concerns for you as a federal judge sentencing circa 1972 are (1) that Rob Anon's statutory sentencing range is 0 to 25 years in federal prison (see  18 U.S.C. § 2113(d)) and 0 to $250,000 in a fine (see 18 U.S.C. § 3571(b)(3)), and (2) that federal parole officials will have complete discretionary authority (but absolutely no requirement) to release Rob Anon after he has served at least one-third of whatever sentence you impose.

In addition to imagining how you, as a judge, would sentence Rob Anon in this world, think also about how prosecutors and defense attorneys would approach sentencing in such a (pre-guideline) world.  You need not yet (and I suggest you do not yet) try to sentence Rob Anon under post-reform (pre- or post-Booker) modern federal sentencing laws.  After we have had a chance in class to talk about your experiences and judgments concerning Rob Anon's sentencing circa 1972, then I will give you guidance and help in sentencing him under modern federal sentencing laws and guidelines.

UPDATE:  I am now able to post below here a form/questionnaire for working through the pre- and post-guideline sentencing of Rob Anon.  I will talk more about this form and about the guideline part of the exercise in our coming class and in future blog posts.  But, if you want to get a running start, I will be grateful if you can use this form to work through the sentencing exercise(s) in the coming weeks. 

Download 2020 Guidelines exercise

October 3, 2020 in Class activities, Guideline sentencing systems, Who decides | Permalink


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