Criminal Law & Procedure
- Corporate and Computer Crime
- Criminal Procedure Rules
- Death Penalty
- Juvenile Justice
- Sentencing and Corrections
|Second Annual Executive Branch Review Conference|
|Controversial Sentencing in the Antwuan Ball Case - Podcast|
In 2005, Washington, D.C. resident Antwuan Ball was indicted for a massive drug conspiracy and associated murders. Following a lengthy jury trial he was acquitted on all the counts, except for one crack distribution count. At sentencing, District Judge Richard Roberts found “clear evidence of [Ball's leadership in] a drug conspiracy” and sentenced Ball to a 225-month prison sentence for the drug distribution — far in excess of the recommended guideline sentence for the single drug distribution charge. The D.C. Circuit upheld this sentence in a decision on March 14. Was the D.C. Circuit Court correct? Our experts discussed the opinion and answered questions from our call-in audience.
|Smarter Sentencing Act - Podcast|
Numerous proposals in Congress, the Justice Department, and the Sentencing Commission would bring down the sentences now given to those convicted of federal drug offenses. Probably the most prominent of these is the proposed Smarter Sentencing Act, which was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with the support of all its Democratic members and several Republicans. The act would, among other things, reduce the mandatory minimum sentences judges must now give certain classes of drug offenders and would expand the existing Safety Valve that has enabled some defendants to avoid the mandatory minimum.
Proponents of the Smarter Sentencing Act say that our prisons are overcrowded and that the pendulum has swung too far in terms of mandatory minimum penalties for non-violent drug offenders. Opponents say that stern mandatory sentencing has helped bring down crime, reined in irrational disparities from one courtroom to the next, insured at least a rock-bottom sentence for socially destructive behavior, and has been more than worth the expense through the savings reduced crime has brought about.
|Maryland v. King: Possibly The Most Important Criminal Procedure Case in Decades|
Many Supreme Court observers, including no less than Justice Samuel Alito himself, have described Maryland v. King as perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that the Court has decided in decades. While this may well be true, the question presented to the Court was actually quite simple: Is the warrantless collection of DNA from arrestees unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment?...[Read More!]
|Child Pornography: Proximate Cause and Restitution – Paroline v. United States - Podcast|
Doyle R. Paroline pled guilty to possession of 150-300 images of child pornography. Included among those files on his computer were two photographs of Amy Unknown, a victim of child pornography. He was sentenced to 24 months of incarceration followed by release under supervision. Under a federal statute that mandates full restitution to victims of child pornography by those convicted of creating, distributing or possessing such material, the Government and Amy sought restitution in the amount of nearly $3.4 million. The district court denied restitution and held that the statute required the Government to prove that Paroline’s possession of the images was the proximate cause of the injuries for which restitution was sought. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed and held that Paroline was responsible for restitution for all the victim’s losses even if his criminal acts occurred after the victim’s losses. On Wednesday, January 22, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Paroline v. United States. Two questions are presented to the Court: 1) In determining restitution in child pornography cases , is the award of restitution limited to losses proximately caused by the defendant’s criminal actions or may a defendant be required to pay restitution for all losses, regardless of whether his criminal acts proximately caused the loss? and 2) Is the Government correct in its argument that authorizing $3.4 million in restitution against a defendant to a victim of child pornography who has never had contact with the defendant may violate the Eighth Amendment ban on excessive fines in the absence of a proximate cause requirement in the setting of the amount of restitution assessed against that defendant? Our expert attended oral arguments and offered his impressions to a live Teleforum audience.