Court struggles with sentencing gudelines

The Supreme Court today revisited federal sentencing guidelines in two cases where the trial judge made a downward departure.  Two years ago the Court decided that the guidelines should no longer be mandatory, but could still be used in determining a reasonable sentence.


In the first case attorney Jeffrey T. Green argued for petitioner Brian Gall who had been given probation rather than the jail term suggested by the guidelines.


Michael S. Nachmanoff, the Federal Public Defender in Alexandria, Va., argued for petitioner in the second case, Kimbrough v. US, that involved the disparity in sentencing guidelines for “crack” cocaine compared to powder, which is 100-to-1 : five grams  of crack gets you the same time as 500 grams of powder cocaine.


Deputy Solicitor General Michael R. Dreeben faced a skeptical court with no notes on his lectern (lawyer machismo?) and no amici briefs on his side.

WaPo story here.

Art Lien

Courtartist is me, Art Lien. I've been sketching the courts since 1976, and for most of that time the U.S. Supreme Court has been my regular beat. I've been working almost exclusively for NBC News since 1980. Courtroom sketching is a form of visual journalism or reportage drawing that is slowly dying out. Where once upon a time news organization each had their own artist covering a story, today a "pool" artist often sketches for all. It is a demanding and stressful discipline where the drawing is often done directly and under tight deadline.

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