Seeking Justice Below the Guidelines: Sentencing as an Expression of Natural Law

53 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2009 Last revised: 26 Jan 2010

Mark William Osler

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota)

Date Written: March 20, 2009

Abstract

Even though there are strong personal incentives against it, federal judges abandon the sentencing guidelines in about one-third of all cases. Shockingly, when they sentence outside of the range, 96% of the time the sentence is below the range rather than above. Looking to both traditional descriptions of natural law and the use of natural law within American history, the author argues that this tendency can be seen as a natural law impulse, and one that ultimately will undermine limitations on sentencing discretion in the form of guidelines.

Keywords: sentencing, criminal law, philosophy, natural law, higher law

JEL Classification: K14, K41, K42

Suggested Citation

Osler, Mark William, Seeking Justice Below the Guidelines: Sentencing as an Expression of Natural Law (March 20, 2009). Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1365938

Mark William Osler (Contact Author)

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

MSL 400, 1000 La Salle Avenue
Minneapolis, MN Minnesota 55403-2005
United States
(254) 717-7032 (Phone)

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