The federal sentencing guidelines are probably the most problematic in three areas – fraud, child pornography, and drugs.
Today’s case, United States v. Diallo, illustrates two of the big problems with the fraud guidelines. First, they’re really complicated – so complicated that federal prosecutors sometimes don’t really understand how they work. In this case, the prosecutor at sentencing took a position so clearly inconsistent with the guidelines that the government abandoned it for the appeal.
(An astute reader will notice that this means the district court went along with the federal prosecutor’s flawed guidelines understanding. It’s a shame, but c’est la guerre.).