Articles Tagged with “crack sentencing”

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Pretty much every federal district judge in the country knows by now that the sentencing guidelines are not mandatory, the guidelines can’t be presumed to be accurate, and that federal district court judges have authority to impose a sentence above, below, or within the sentencing guidelines, applying the factors set out in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).

1268685_washington_monument.jpgAnd so just about every federal district judge knows that if he or she says she’s going to give a guidelines sentence, he or she has to also say it’s the sentence that they’d give under § 3553(a).

It’s odd, but in federal court it’s very important that a judge knows what power he has, which is exemplified in the D.C. Circuit’s opinion in United States v. Terrell. If a district judge is going to give a guidelines sentence, he or she has to be clear about whether a lower sentence is even possible.

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Michael Jackson – no, not that one – pled guilty to dealing crack.

He did so at a particularly odd time in our Nation’s history when it comes to crack sentencing.

Mr. Jackson’s plea hearing was in June of 2009. The district court judge, wanting to give Mr. Jackson the benefit of what the court was sure would be a new change in our crack sentencing laws – sure that change he could believe in was coming – let Mr. Jackson’s sentencing hearing be delayed to see if Congress would change the crack sentencing laws.