Sentencing Tips

Mar

What can you do if faced with the government argument that a lesser sentence for your client would depreciate the seriousness of the offense and promote disrespect for the law? As one judge once told me, “Tell me something that your client did when no one was keeping score.” In my recent interviews for the Law360 "Views from the Bench" ...

Mar

This article, published by Law360, reviews a key opinion authored by Judge Gorsuch as it pertains to federal sentencing — United States v. Sabillon-Umana, 772 F.3d 1328 (10th Cir. 2014) — and the effect it already has had on recent U.S. Supreme Court sentencing jurisprudence. The authors believe that should Judge Gorsuch be confirmed, he will have not just a ...

Jan

The U.S. Sentencing Commission Continues to Make Fundamental Fixes to the Sentencing Guidelines  By:  Alan Ellis and Mark H. Allenbaugh  On April 15, 2016, following last year’s important amendments to relevant conduct, mitigating role, and fraud guidelines, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to continue to make fundamental fixes to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) that have long been in need of repair. ...

Nov

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 ...

Oct

When we last visited the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) reduction in sentence (RIS) program (sometimes erroneously called “compassionate release”), the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) had just blasted the BOP. (See Alan Ellis & EJ Hurst II, Federal BOP Puts a Little Compassion in Its Newest Release Program, 28 Crim. Just., no. 4, Winter 2014, at 41.) ...

Sep

More than one judge I’ve interviewed for this series has told me that they expect lawyers to be succinct; tell them what they don’t already know; be candid about the client’s crime and its impact; and bear in mind that your job in sentencing representation is to connect with the judge, not to impress your client and their friends and ...

Jul

In Part 6 of the Law360 "Views from the Bench on Sentencing" series, I discussed with several judges some of the less traditional federal sentencing factors. Click to read the article.

Jun

This article is meant to serve as an easy-to-read primer to help lawyers understand federal sentencing. Over 25 years ago, before the Sentencing Guidelines went into effect, a federal judge could, with a few exceptions, sentence a convicted defendant to anything from probation to the statutory maximum. All that changed when the Sentencing Guidelines went ...

Jun

Criminal defense lawyers consider Judges John R. Adams and Otis D. Wright, II, tough sentencers. Judges Justin L. Quackenbush and Walter H. Rice are viewed as being at the opposite end of the spectrum. In Part 5 of this series, I learn how similar they were on what constitutes good sentencing advocacy, despite their reputations. Click to read the ...

May

Judge Cynthia A. Bashant of the Southern District of California in San Diego and Judge Jon D. Levy of the District of Maine in Portland were both appointed by President Obama in 2014 and confirmed at the same time. Lawyers consistently describe both as “right down the middle” at sentencing. Read the information they shared in an interview for Part ...

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