Booker Decision Resulting in Judicial Confusion

The Baltimore Sun reports that the Supreme Court's decision in Booker and Fan Fan invalidating the federal sentencing guidelines but making them advisory is causing confusion among the nation's judges.

Congress is keeping a close tab on judge's post-Booker sentencings--if in its view, too many judges are using the decision to sentence below the guidelines, watch out. Congress will step in with a legislative fix.

In Congress and at the Justice Department, officials are watching for overly lenient judges. At a hearing last week, the House judiciary panel began laying the groundwork for possible legislative action to restore a stricter framework for federal sentences.

....Both the American Bar Association and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers have suggested a yearlong waiting period before any legislative changes are considered, saying the time is needed to gather detailed statistics about federal sentences in the aftermath of Booker.

"Basically, the kind of knee-jerk, quick-fix solutions all have problems," said Stephen A. Saltzburg, a George Washington University law professor and member of the bar association committee that proposed the 12-month waiting period. "We were very concerned in the ABA about this rush to judgment - let's fix this, when we don't even know yet if it's broken."

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