Sentencing Insights From A Chat With Judge Nancy Gertner
Judge Nancy Gertner was nominated by President Bill Clinton to the U.S.District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Her nomination was strongly supported by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. She served until 2011, during which time she issued numerous opinions on sentencing issues and was widely published in the area. She currently is a senior lecturer on law at Harvard Law School, where she teaches forensic science and sentencing. She is also writing a book titled “Incomplete Sentences: Gangs, Guidelines and Judges,” which is expected to be published by Beacon Press this year.
In the first of a few interviews with Judge Gertner, which took place between August and November of last year, I began by asking her why she resigned from the bench. She gave me several reasons, most of which boiled down to her frustration with the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s refusal to take any of her opinions into consideration when reworking the federal sentencing guidelines. She thought she could better contribute to ending mass incarceration by teaching law students, lawyers and federal judges at the Federal Judicial Center on sentencing.