Friday, January 21, 2005

CLS Sentencing Symposium - Judge Lynch's Opening Remarks

This post is coming to you live from Columbia Law School’s state sentencing symposium. The symposium was kicked off with some opening remarks by Judge and CLS Professor Gerard Lynch. What follows are some highlights of his opening remarks.

Judge Lynch began his comments by noting the impeccable timing of the symposium. The timing, however, was fortuitous – the symposium was not planned as a response to Blakely or Booker. The original purpose of this symposium was to steer the sentencing conversation away from Congress and the Sentencing Commission, and towards the courts.

Sentencing is still a topic that is not given a lot of attention in criminal courses. Legal and academic writing tends to focus of Congress, although federal sentencing only composes 7% of the incarcerated public. This is especially significant given that the focus of federal law (white collar crime, immigration and drug crimes) is distinct from the traditional street crimes that most people are concerned about.

Although there is no clear pattern or trajectory in sentencing law, the states have been the true innovators in sentencing.

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