Friday, June 22, 2007

"The Guidelines Are Dead, Long Live the Guidelines, Part II," or "Breyer Gets the Last Laugh (For the Time Being)"

Yesterday the Supreme Court issued its long-anticipated decision in Rita v. United States, No. 06-5754 (U.S. June 21, 2007). It held that courts of appeals may afford a presumption of reasonableness to guideline sentences. The court made clear, however, that the presumption does not operate in the district court. Just how much latitude that grants district judges to sentence outside the guidelines is unclear, but we'll get additional guidance on that point sometime next term when the Supreme Court decides Gall v. United States and Kimbrough v. United States.

We'll hopefully have some commentary here in the near future about just what Rita means for sentencing practice in the Fifth Circuit. But for the time being, there's plenty of commentary elsewhere to slake your thirst for all things Rita. SCOTUSblog collects analysis from the professoriate (Doug Berman, Mark Osler, Michael O'Hear, Davis Stras, Kate Stith, Jeff Fisher, and a couple of Hessicks). And as usual, Doug Berman's own blog, Sentencing Law and Policy, is chock-full of ruminations and prognostications. Finally, Steve Kalar discusses some of the practical implications of Rita just down the street from us at the Ninth Circuit Blog. Enjoy.


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