Trial Magazine, March 2008
5 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2008 Last revised: 29 Jun 2013
Date Written: 2008
This article, to appear in Trial Magazine, discusses the two recent Supreme Court sentencing cases, Gall and Kimbrough. In both cases, the Supreme Court allowed federal trial judges to depart downward from the Sentencing Guidelines, and reversed Court of Appeals decisions that had struck down those departures. In Gall the trial judge had sentenced the defendant to probation, when the recommended prison term in the Guidlelines was 30-37 months. The Court held that an "abuse of discretion" standard must be applied in evaluating the trial court's sentence and that the judge had not abused his discretion here. Kimbrough was to the same effect when the trial court gave the defendant the minimum statutory sentence for possession of crack cocaine. This was significantly below the guidleines range (but still higher than the sentence would have been had the defendant possessed powder cocaine).
Keywords: Criminal Law, Sentencing, Sentencing Guidelines, Gall, Kimbrough
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