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Criminal Law

Maurer School of Law: Indiana University

2010

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Inter-Judge Sentencing Disparity After Booker: A First Look, Ryan W. Scott Jan 2010

Inter-Judge Sentencing Disparity After Booker: A First Look, Ryan W. Scott

Articles by Maurer Faculty

A central purpose of the Sentencing Reform Act was to reduce inter-judge sentencing disparity, driven not by legitimate differences between offenders and offense conduct, but by the philosophy, politics, or biases of the sentencing judge. The federal Sentencing Guidelines, despite their well-recognized deficiencies, succeeded in reducing that form of unwarranted disparity. But in a series of decisions from 2005 to 2007, the Supreme Court rendered the Guidelines advisory (Booker), set a highly deferential standard for appellate review (Gall), and explicitly authorized judges to reject the policy judgments of the Sentencing Commission (Kimbrough). Since then, the Commission has received extensive anecdotal ...