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Sentencing Guidelines

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NEWS
October 11, 2004
WHEN CONGRESS reformed the way federal judges impose criminal sentences, its aim in the mid-1980s was to ensure similar sentences for like crimes. But the federal guidelines haven't always produced equitable sentences. And a majority of the Supreme Court recognized last week that there is a constitutional problem with the system. An Illinois case argued before the court focused on a central flaw of the system that demands redress. After a Chicago jury convicted Freddie J. Booker of possessing 500 grams of cocaine, a judge, in accordance with the guidelines, increased his sentence by eight years based on evidence that a jury never considered.
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NEWS
October 12, 2014
Montgomery County Judge Richard E. Jordan was so appalled by the actions of former Baltimore Police Officer Alec Taylor that he went outside sentencing guidelines to order the man committed to jail for a year - four times the maximum recommendation of three months. Mr. Taylor's crime? Beating a dog to death. The facts of the case are pretty horrific. The officer pummeled "Rocko," a tiny Jack Russell terrier, with a mop, choked him and left him lying on the floor all because the pup had soiled a rug. Mr. Taylor then sent a girlfriend a series of unemotional text messages about the beating, including this one: "Yeah I think he's pretty much dead.
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NEWS
By David Simon | February 2, 1992
Despite a record increase in the federal prison population and continuing evidence of sentencing disparities, the first major assessment of the U.S. government's controversial new guidelines for criminal sentencing concludes that the system is working adequately."
NEWS
By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | June 29, 2014
A federal appeals court ruling could add to the number of inmates with legal grounds to seek reduced sentences because of a shifting interpretation of sentencing guidelines and what constitutes a violent crime. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated last week a 31/2-year sentence for Jose Herbert Henriquez, an El Salvadoran who pleaded guilty to illegally re-entering the United States. The lengthy sentence was based in part on a previous burglary conviction. "A Maryland conviction of first-degree burglary cannot constitute a crime of violence," Judge James A. Wynn Jr. wrote for the majority, remanding the case to a lower court for Henriquez to be resentenced.
NEWS
By New York Times News Service Staff Writer Norris P. West contributed to this article | May 5, 1993
WASHINGTON -- Emboldened by support from a growing number of federal judges, Attorney General Janet Reno has begun to take the first steps toward reversing the policy of meting out tough criminal sentences for minor drug offenses.In recent days, she has told some groups that she will soon order a review of the federal sentencing guidelines with an eye toward eliminating the long mandatory sentences for low-level drug crimes, like possession of small amounts of narcotics. She is expected to discuss the review on Friday at a conference on national drug strategy attended by officials from the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations.
NEWS
By Norris P. West and Norris P. West,Staff Writer | September 28, 1992
No one claims that David Moe Robinson is a good guy. Certainly not federal prosecutors. Not the judge. Not even his lawyer.Robinson is a convicted drug dealer who once fired a gunshot through the window of a former associate's home to "send a message" about what happens to people who don't pay cocaine debts on time.Now, he is in the cross-fire of an escalating war of words over federal sentencing guidelines, which in effect transferred the authority of federal judges to prosecutors five years ago to eliminate sentencing disparities.
NEWS
By Jay Apperson and Jay Apperson,Sun Staff Writer | January 18, 1995
Charging that new sentencing guidelines are too lenient, a group of Maryland prosecutors will ask judges not to use the guidelines until the issue is aired at public hearings."
NEWS
By Stephanie Hanes and Stephanie Hanes,SUN STAFF | July 27, 2004
A Maryland federal judge yesterday joined a growing list of jurists who say the sentencing guidelines that have long determined federal defendants' prison terms are unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake's comments came as she gave a life sentence to Aaron DeMarco Foster, 24, one of the three men convicted in April of operating a murderous drug gang named after the now-razed Lexington Terrace housing complex. Although Blake's stance is far from unique -- judges across the country, including some in Maryland, have said the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Blakely vs. Washington eradicates the guidelines -- her position in this high-profile case reflects what many lawyers see as mounting pressure on the nation's highest court to clarify what is a key component of federal criminal law. "Until the Supreme Court addresses the specific issue of whether its decision in Blakely has rendered the sentencing guidelines unconstitutional, lower courts are going to continue to struggle with the question of what is left of the guidelines," said Gregg L. Bernstein, a Baltimore defense lawyer.
NEWS
By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE | January 18, 2005
Allowing federal judges great leeway in sentencing criminals does not have to breed chaos, according to judges and sentencing specialists in states that already have such systems. When the Supreme Court said Wednesday that federal sentencing guidelines were merely advisory, many prosecutors and lawmakers predicted federal judges would start issuing wildly inconsistent sentences based on little more than sentiment and whim. But the handful of states that already use such systems have produced notable conformity.
NEWS
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun | October 28, 2013
A federal judge in Maryland handed down lighter prison sentences Monday to defendants in a huge marijuana distribution case, saying that such offenses are "not regarded with the same seriousness" as they were just a few decades ago. U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar said the federal government's response to marijuana legalization in some states — notably the decision not to pursue criminal cases against dispensaries and others handling the...
NEWS
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun | October 28, 2013
A federal judge in Maryland handed down lighter prison sentences Monday to defendants in a huge marijuana distribution case, saying that such offenses are "not regarded with the same seriousness" as they were just a few decades ago. U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar said the federal government's response to marijuana legalization in some states — notably the decision not to pursue criminal cases against dispensaries and others handling the...
NEWS
By Tricia Bishop | June 4, 2012
A West Baltimore man captured on video attacking a police officer on New Year's Eve was convicted of second-degree assault last month in a rare bit of swift justice in the city. Manuel Imel, 40, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with all but one year of the term suspended, for tackling an officer who was in the middle of arresting a second man. A recording of the incident was widely viewed online at WorldStarHipHop.com. It shows two officers trying to handcuff a man in the street as a crowd watches, apparently upset.
NEWS
November 30, 2011
Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein is warning that a recent revision to the federal sentencing guidelines for crack and powder cocaine possession will lead to the release of hundreds of dangerous criminals onto the streets. But before crying wolf about a new crime wave, he ought to consider federal prosecutors' role in creating what he describes as an impending disaster. The fact is, most of the people currently in prison for drug violations aren't there because they committed violent crimes.
NEWS
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun | November 28, 2011
Dwuan Dent and Antwan Askia were on opposite sides of an East Baltimore drug turf war in the 1990s that killed at least four people, according to federal prosecutors who charged Dent with murder and conspiracy and Askia with various drug counts. Both were convicted only of drug distribution charges, but because of tough-on-crime guidelines that imposed greater penalties for crack than powder cocaine, Dent was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison and Askia to 20. Now Dent and Askia are among scores of prisoners across the country who are being released early — the beneficiaries of efforts to change those sentencing guidelines that critics say disproportionately affected low-income people and minorities who faced longer prison terms for crack-cocaine charges.
NEWS
By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun | September 6, 2011
A Randallstown teenager pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Tuesday in the fatal stabbing of a pizza deliveryman, and prosecutors said although he was not the killer, he helped lure the victim to the Severn home where he was robbed and killed. Prosecutors said Darrius Lynne Bullock, 19, told police that he only saw that his cousin Tavon Rudolph Brown had a knife after the two had beaten and robbed the 46-year-old deliveryman on Dec. 18. Anne Arundel County prosecutor Kelly Poma told county Circuit Judge Paul F. Harris that a lie-detector test showed Bullock was telling the truth.
NEWS
By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun | August 29, 2011
Dissatisfied with the punishment expected to be handed down Tuesday by a city judge, the family of a 22-year-old man who drowned after being pushed into the Inner Harbor in 2008 said it has filed a $5 million wrongful-death lawsuit against the man convicted for his death. Wayne Black, a 21-year-old from Pasadena, is scheduled to be sentenced to a four-year prison term as part of his plea agreement. He pleaded guilty to shoving Ankush Gupta, a University of Maryland engineering student, into the harbor three years ago. The circumstances of Gupta's death had been a mystery until police received a tip that he had been pushed by Black, who later confessed.
NEWS
By Richard B. Schmitt and David G. Savage and Richard B. Schmitt and David G. Savage,Los Angeles Times | July 4, 2007
WASHINGTON -- In commuting the jail sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr., President Bush said the former vice presidential aide had suffered enough and the 30-month prison term ordered by a federal judge was "excessive." But records show the Justice Department under the Bush administration frequently has sought sentences as long, or longer, in cases similar to Libby's. Three-fourths of the 198 defendants sentenced in federal court last year for obstruction of justice - one of four crimes for which Libby was found guilty by a jury last March - got some jail time.
NEWS
By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun | May 24, 2011
The 50-year prison sentence of a Crofton teenager who lured a 7-year-old neighbor from a playground and raped her was cut by more than half Tuesday, and the distraught mother of the victim ran from the courtroom as lawyers argued over her request to bar him from living near her family once he's released. The new sentence, 20 years, means that David B. Raszewski, now 19, may be eligible for parole consideration before he is 30 — about the same time his victim could get a driver's license.
NEWS
By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun | December 21, 2010
A Waldorf man convicted of trying to kill his pregnant girlfriend, a Crofton hairdresser, was given a life sentence Tuesday by an Anne Arundel County judge. Prosecutors contended Charles Brandon Martin, 33, sent a letter from his jail cell after he was convicted in the 2008 shooting that disabled Jodi Torok that sought to have the man acquitted of being the triggerman killed. Jail officials intercepted the letter and gave it to prosecutors. The letter was authenticated by a Maryland State Police expert, over the objection of the defense, at the hearing before Judge Pamela L. North.
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