Monday, March 15, 2010
Federal Sentencing after Booker on SCOTUS Blog
Ryan W. Scott (Indiana University Maurer School of Law) has posted an article on SSRN entitled “Inter-Judge Sentencing Disparity After Booker: A First Look,” see here. The piece is forthcoming in the Stanford Law Review. Professor Scott uses a unique dataset from the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts to examine how judges have handled their new sentencing freedom as a result of cases such as Booker, Kimbrough, and Gall. Using a natural experiment method, the study finds that the “judge effect” at sentencing has more than doubled since that trio of cases was decided by the Supreme Court. Though the article examines only the data from a single district, the empirical findings are consistent with anecdotal evidence around the nation regarding inter-judge sentencing disparities as a result of the Supreme Court’s recent sentencing jurisprudence. Of particular note, the study finds that some “business as usual” judges continue to sentence below the guideline range at essentially the same rate as before Booker, while other judges now sentence below the guideline range at triple or quadruple their pre-Booker levels. This is a very interesting article and well worth a read for those who are interested in the Court’s recent Sixth Amendment jurisprudence.