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Monday, April 24, 2006 

Sentencing Guidelines and Pirates

I've been consistent in my support for nominating Judge Michael McConnell to the Supreme Court. He's a U of Chicago Law grad. He clerked for that goof Brennan and made it out alive with his brain intact. He's been a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals since 2002. He taught law for over 15 years and has written influentially on many topics. Judge McConnell's recent article in the Denver University Law Review shows that he's still got that professor-like interest in legal policy.


Michael McConnell; judge, professor, man by a tree

Judge McConnell takes on the recent Supreme Court decision in US v Booker. In that case, the Court declared that Sentencing Guideline system imposed by Congress unconstitutional. McConnell takes on three issues: What has been the effect of Booker on sentencing? Are the Booker decisions coherent as a matter of constitutional doctrine? Has Booker improved the sentencing process as a practical matter?

McConnell examines how the Justice Stevens and Breyer opinions should be read. He refers to one view as Booker maximalism...
[D]istrict courts are liberated to sentence criminal defendants in accordance with the judge's sense of individualized justice, with the Guidelines merely taken into "consideration" for what they are worth. In such a system, the Guidelines are like the Pirate Code in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: more what you would call guidelines than actual rules.
These references might seem odd and kind of trivial, but I like them. For some reason, I can read an article about a legal topic that doesn't interest me if I have an extra-legal example to compare it to (even if it is a pretty limited comparison).

If you're really interested in Booker, sentencing, and all the rest of that fun stuff, check out the Sentencing Law and Policy blog run by Professor Douglas Berman. If you're really interested, read Booker itself. It only clocks in at 124 pages.

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