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Sentencing After Booker: The Impact of Appellate Review on Defendants\u27 Rights

By David J D\u27Addio


United States v. Booker held that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines (\u22Guidelines\u22), as they were applied at the time, violated defendants\u27 Sixth Amendment jury trial rights. Unfortunately, Booker failed to provide the clarity that judges and commentators-not to mention defendants-had hoped for. The Supreme Court produced a tortured 124-page decision with two conflicting majority opinions. The tension between the majority opinions ran so deep that their authors, Justices Stevens and Breyer, each wrote principal dissents in the case. Justice Stevens, in the \u22substantive majority\u22 opinion (Booker 1), concluded that the Guidelines violated a defendant\u27s Sixth Amendment right to have every fact essential to the imposition of a sentence proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Stevens proposed a simple solution to the problem: require a jury finding for every fact that increased the Guideline sentence. But this was not the remedy the Court adopted. Instead, Justice Breyer, in the \u22remedial majority\u22 opinion (Booker I), concluded that the appropriate remedy was to make the Guidelines \u22advisory.\u22 Once advisory, the Guideline facts were no longer essential to the punishment and were therefore beyond the scope of the Constitution\u27s jury trial guarantee. But Justice Breyer was not finished. In order to ensure that judges did not return to the Wild West of pre- Guideline sentencing, Breyer determined that appellate courts would review sentencing decisions to determine whether they were \u22unreasonable. \u2

Topics: Law
Publisher: Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository
Year: 2015
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