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When Discretion Leads To Distortion: Recognizing Pre-Arrest Sentence-Manipulation Claims Under The Federal Sentencing Guidelines, Jeffrey L. Fisher Jun 1996

When Discretion Leads To Distortion: Recognizing Pre-Arrest Sentence-Manipulation Claims Under The Federal Sentencing Guidelines, Jeffrey L. Fisher

Michigan Law Review

This Note argues that sentence manipulation should be a legally viable partial defense - a defense that does not warrant complete exoneration, but does warrant a reduced sentence when the government's investigative techniques place a quantity of drugs before the court that overrepresents the defendant's culpability, or individual blameworthiness. Part I describes the policies and objectives that underlie the Guidelines, but then demonstrates how the rigid application of quantity-based sentencing provisions can lead to sentence manipulation that thwarts these goals, particularly the goal of sentencing according to culpability. Part II describes how courts have responded to sentence manipulation claims. It …