Tuesday, November 30, 2021

A Place at the Table

By Michael Caruso

Earlier this week, David posted an article that lamented Judge Charles Bryer's status as the sole member of the United States Commission (USSC). But that description is not entirely accurate. Judge Breyer is the sole voting member of the USSC. There are currently two “ex officio” members of the USSC. Both ex officio members are employees of the Department of Justice—a designee of the Attorney General of the United States and the Chairperson of the United States Parole Commission. 

Since the creation of the USSC in 1984, and despite persistent efforts, there never has been an ex officio representative from the Federal Defender community.  Unlike the USSC, the majority of state sentencing commissions have a public defender representative to provide them with advice and input at crucial stages of the decision-making process. Because we represent over 65% of those charged in federal criminal cases, a public defender representative would improve transparency and accountability in sentencing policy and provide the Commission with an internal defense perspective and balance.

Today, Senators Booker and Durbin introduced legislation to repair this long-standing structural issue. The self-described mission of the USSC is “to reduce sentencing disparities and promote transparency and proportionality in sentencing.” These are laudable goals, and this reform undoubtedly will further that mission. Congress hopefully will act expeditiously. 


Anonymous said...

Defense lawyer for Darrell Brooks has to withdraw because he's connected with some of the parade victims.


Guess he may not be invited to some future holiday dinners.

Anonymous said...

Let's get rid of the sentencing guidelines and let judges be judges, able to exercise discretion on a case by case basis instead of being constrained by arbitrary guidelines, where sentencing is determined by adding points and considering uncharged and acquitted conduct.

Anonymous said...

Michael, you are right. DOJ has too much influence. What's amazing is how fair and reasonable they always think they are at DOJ. Btw, if you have not actually had to represent and defend real live human beings, you have no business being a prosecutor.

9:17 - A better guideline system would be one wider ranges with guidelines that don't read like the tax code. And yes increased guidelines based on acquitted and uncharged conduct is an abomination.

Anonymous said...

Happy to see your blog engaging in a substantive discussion as opposed to Rumpole's transphobia.