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Judicial Oversight of Negotiated Sentences in a World of Bargained Punishment

17 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2005  

Nancy J. King

Vanderbilt University - Law School


This article examines parties' ability to circumvent consistency in sentencing by bargaining around the rules that structure sentences within statutory ranges in federal criminal cases. Without careful control by judges, sentencing bargaining carries risks for structured-sentencings systems that may outweigh gains in efficiency. After a discussion of weaknesses in the ability of judges to oversee the factual accuracy of sentencing agreements, the article advances several options that would strengthen that supervisory role, promoting greater accuracy, transparency, and consistency in federal sentencing.

Keywords: sentencing, stipulations, plea bargaining, guidelines, presentence report, probation officer

Suggested Citation

King, Nancy J., Judicial Oversight of Negotiated Sentences in a World of Bargained Punishment. Stanford Law Review, Vol. 58, p. 293, 2005; Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 05-34. Available at SSRN:

Nancy J. King (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
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