Washington, DC (July 9, 2004) -- Reports of the death of the federal sentencing guidelines are greatly exaggerated.
True, the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision in Blakely v. Washington has created much confusion in the federal courts about the continued viability of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. Many federal sentencing hearings of criminal defendants were continued or postponed while judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers studied the case and decided literally on a case-by-case basis whether the holding in Blakely – that the Sixth Amendment requires any fact which increases a defendant’s sentence above the statutory maximum for an offense must be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt – applies in a given case.
Because of this ruling, courts have been proceeding in criminal cases on an ad hoc basis, with little in the way of guidance. Two courts have ruled the federal sentencing guidelines unconstitutional. Others have held only that certain aggravating factors that increase a defendant’s sentence violate Blakely. Clearly, something needs to be done. Emergency legislation, drafted in haste and passed without due deliberation, too often creates more problems than it solves. “Quick fixes” can have enormous costs.
For these reasons, E.E. (Bo) Edwards and Barry C. Scheck, President and President-Elect of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers today invited the Justice Department and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (A.O.) to join together with the defense bar to create an ad hoc study committee of judges, academics, prosecutors and defense lawyers to reconcile the federal sentencing system with Blakely.
“In anticipation of some eventual reconciliation of Blakely and the federal guidelines … what is needed now is a reasoned and dispassionate analysis of sentencing guidelines systems, federal and state,” Edwards and Scheck wrote in their letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft and A.O. Director L. Ralph Mecham. “A study could involve the voices and experiences of judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers from across the country to help determine the best way to reconcile the federal guidelines system with the requirements of the Sixth Amendment.” The study could also be of great use to the dozen or so states whose guideline systems may also be unconstitutional, they added.
The full text of the letter is on NACDL’s Web page, www.nacdl.org, at:
Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence: A Trial Strategy Guide
NACDL’s Pattern Cross-Examination for DNA and Biological Evidence will assist criminal defense practitioners in scoring points when cross-examining forensic experts in cases involving DNA and biological evidence. This resource contains thousands of questions that will help defense lawyers cross-examine challenging witnesses without reinventing the wheel with each new case. It includes pattern questions that can be used to dominate prosecution DNA experts and level the playing field at trial.
Cross-Examination of the Analyst in Drug Prosecutions (2nd Ed.) By James M. Shellow
Now in its second edition with some new material, James M. Shellow’s book offers what its title promises: ways of thinking about cross-examining the forensic analysts in drug cases. But the book is so much more than that. It offers a look inside the mind of one of the finest cross-examiners and defense lawyers the United States has produced in the last seventy years. This small book can inspire and direct you in making big changes in the way you defend your clients and think about the entire project of trying any case.
Justice For All, Justice Now White T-Shirt (Women’s)
This custom, vintage-faded NACDL t-shirt is 50% polyester, 25% cotton, and 25% rayon weighing 5.2 oz. and is lightwieght, flexible and soft, providing maximum comfort. It features the "Justice For All, Justice Now" slogan and Lady Liberty image on the front, with the NACDL logo on the back. Currently available in both men's and women's sizes in both black and white colors. View the full line-up of colors and sizes on our online store, as well as our other popular and best-selling t-shirt designs at: nacdl.org/store.
Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection - CD-ROM
NACDL’s Drug Cases Resource Materials Collection is the sweeping culmination of every single article of written materials ever published from each installment of NACDL's annual "Defending Modern Drug Cases" seminar. Totaling over 12,000 pages, this vast collection includes 12+ years of motions, briefs, reports, outlines, transcripts, case citations, scholarly articles, powerpoints and other written commentaries. This collection provides trial strategies and tactics you can immediately apply to your current cases.
Mental Illness & the Law: Addressing and Litigating Behavioral Health Disorders in Criminal Cases
Whether it is insanity, impairment, a disorder, or adolescent brain development; mental health and intellectual competence issues affect pretrial supervision, trial and sentencing, and your chances of successfully advocating for your impaired client. This training provides ideas and proven solutions to assist you in advocating for your client during trial, whether it be insanity defenses, jury selection, cross of expert witnesses, persuasion, or mitigation at sentencing.
NACDL Communications Department
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.