Sentencing Tips

Feb

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether to review a case involving sentencing of Vincent Asaro, a long-time capo for the Bonanno crime family. Federal sentencing and prison experts Alan Ellis and Mark Allenbaugh say if the court ultimately finds the presumption of innocence precludes not just the use of acquitted conduct, but of uncharged and acquitted conduct, it ...

Oct

This article which was the follow up to an article that I wrote for Federal Lawyer magazine in September 2017, is the first of a series of articles on judges’ views on effective sentencing advocacy. Click to read the article.

Jan

Federal criminal sentencing experts Alan Ellis and Mark Allenbaugh dissect the First Step Act of 2018, a new bipartisan federal prison reform law. In Part 1 of a three-part series, the authors focus on the significant expansion of the “safety valve;” the reduction of mandatory minimum penalties for second and third-strike offenders; the elimination of a particular draconian ...

Dec

Law360 is publishing a series of articles written by Alan Ellis. The series is part of the Expert Analysis section of Law360's White Collar Crime practice category. For the series, Mr. Ellis interviewed federal judges at length and asked them to share some dos and don'ts for lawyers and their clients who appear before them at sentencing, as well as ...

Jun

The federal presentence investigation report (PSR) is the document most heavily relied on by a judge in imposing sentence—particularly in those cases where a guilty plea has been entered and the court knows little about the defendant. It also is the document that the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) relies on in making designations and placements and many other decisions ...

Jan

In this article, published in Bloomberg Law's White Collar Crime Report, Alan Ellis, Mark Allenbaugh and Doug Passon discuss the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision examining the use of acquitted conduct at sentencing. The authors argue that based on the high court’s ruling, only facts arising out of a final conviction, and not elements of acquitted, dismissed, or uncharged crimes, ...

Dec

Rule 35 and Prior State Sentences United States v. Hankton, No. 16-31126 (5th Cir. Nov. 16, 2017) In Hankton, defendants, at their federal sentencings, had the time they had served on prior, related state sentences credited toward their federal sentences. Quoting Hank Sadowski, former and now-retired Bureau of Prisons’ Regional Counsel, who has written and lectured extensively on the subject ...

Nov

In this article published by Bloomberg Law White Collar Crime Report, Alan Ellis and Mark Allenbaugh discuss the proposed amendment to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines regarding acceptance of responsibility and challenging relevant conduct. Ellis and Allenbaugh argue that any revised commentary to U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1 should make clear that challenges to relevant conduct, as well as arguments in favor of ...

Sep

Earlier this year, Alan Ellis interviewed Elliot Atkins, Ed.D., a noted forensic psychologist. The highlights of the interview are included in this article, which is intended to provide defense counsel with strategies for more effectively educating the Court about the client whose mental and emotional functioning may have contributed to the commission of the offense. A substantially similar version of this ...

Sep

For the past year and a half, Alan Ellis has interviewed almost two dozen federal judges, discussing with them their philosophies on and advice for lawyers representing clients at federal sentencing. Mr. Ellis saw a pattern across the viewpoints of the judges: they are not getting the information they need during the sentencing phase of a case. Some of the ...