After the Implosion: Trailing-Edge Guidelines for a New Era

26 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2009 Last revised: 26 Jan 2010

See all articles by Mark William Osler

Mark William Osler

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

Date Written: April 30, 2009


This short article argues that the federal sentencing guidelines are both unprincipled and unstable (and certainly unloved) as currently constructed. The author suggests that the current leading-edge guidelines, in which advised sentences are fixed by a commission which leads judges to a sentence, be replaced by trailing-edge guidelines, in which the advisory baseline sentence would be created through a real-time electronic survey of judges' current practices in similar cases. Trailing-edge guidelines could provide uniformity and maintain the procedure of the current system while giving judges more discretion both in individual cases and in the way their decisions shape the guidelines themselves.

Keywords: sentencing, guidelines, sentencing guidelines, criminal law, federal

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Osler, Mark William, After the Implosion: Trailing-Edge Guidelines for a New Era (April 30, 2009). Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

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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