Throwing the Book at Sentencing Appeals: Reasonableness and the Booker Decision
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
Arizona State Law Journal, Vol. 38, pp. 483-516, 2006
When the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in United States v. Booker, it did more than render what had been a mandatory federal sentencing guideline system into an 'advisory' system, it weakened the effort to police the district courts' sentencing practices and enforce the goal of avoiding sentencing disparities among federal sentences through the machinery of sentencing appeals. Prior to the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, appellate review of federal sentences was limited. Appellate courts did not review the exercise of the sentencing court's discretion except to entertain any challenge that the sentence fell outside the boundaries set by the pertinent statute. Booker replaced this detailed appellate review scheme with a single 'reasonableness' review of sentences. In light of this change, the courts will have to address what weight to give the guidelines under the new 'reasonableness' standard and whether appellate courts should give any presumption of reasonableness to a post-Booker sentence which falls within the now advisory guideline range. In examining these two questions, Part II describes the holdings and merits of Apprendi v. New Jersey, Blakely v. Washington, and Booker'? and how the cases are best understood as requiring juries to find facts that have a fixed and determinative effect on a sentence. Part III describes and reviews the Act's pre-Booker appellate review scheme and how appellate courts are presently coping with Booker's reasonableness standard. Part IV examines how the guidelines ought to figure into the new reasonableness standard of review in light of the Sentencing Cases.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 34
Keywords: Sentencing, appellate review, supreme court
Date posted: July 9, 2009
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