August 03, 2004

Indiana Courts - Federal prosecutor urges sentencing halt

The U.S. prosecutor for the ND Indiana is urging the federal district court judges for the Northern District of Indiana to stop sentencings until the U.S. Supreme Court has issued a ruling in the U.S. v. Booker appeal it accepted yesterday, according to a story today in the Munster Times. Argument in Booker is scheduled for October 4th of this year; there is no timetable for the Supreme Court's decision. Some quotes from the story:

U.S. Attorney Joseph Van Bokkelen is asking the U.S. District Court judges in Hammond, South Bend and Fort Wayne to halt all scheduled sentencings until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the fairness of current sentencing guidelines. * * *

Formulated two decades ago, the federal guidelines help judges calculate the length of imprisonment or probation for a particular crime and the convict's prior criminal history. They were implemented to ensure sentencing uniformity, and that those convicted in federal courts across the country receive similar sentences for similar crimes. The guidelines restrict judges from going above or below a specific range of penalties.

U.S. District Court Clerk Stephen R. Ludwig asked northern Indiana defense lawyers whose clients would be affected by a sentencing delay to comment on Van Bokkelen's petition by Aug. 12. Ludwig didn't indicate when a decision would take place.

Van Bokkelen's petition states, "Federal sentencing has reached a crisis." He said there is a "prospect that many thousands of future sentencings handed down in the coming months may be invalidated by courts coming to the wrong conclusion about the implications of Blakely on federal sentencing."

Here are copies of the 67-page Motion to Stay/Memorandum in Support and a 1-page Request for Responses.

Posted by Marcia Oddi at August 3, 2004 07:51 AM