Federal Sentencing Guidelines (SD 404)


Federal sentencing law has undergone two, contrary sea-changes in philosophy and detail in the last 30 years. The shift from a system based on mandatory sentencing guidelines in United States v. Booker was a direct consequence of the Supreme Court's still-reverberating decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey applying the Sixth Amendment trial protections to issues of punishment. As a result, the study of federal sentencing law carries with it important lessons shaping state sentencing practices. This course describes these major changes in the law, but its focus is strongly on a wholly practical approach to the subject. Students will be familiarized with the major components of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines in way allowing them to apply these concepts immediately to actual sentencing scenarios. The course covers the basic Guidelines protocol, criminal history calculations, determining basic offense levels, and the principal adjustments and departures to derive the recommended sentence. In keeping with post-Booker developments, the course will also cover the main controversies and strategies in current federal practice. Students will be taught the skills to advocate for an overall sentence in a hands-on fashion and gain particular guidance in the practical art of sentencing advocacy. The instructors are a senior trial attorney and appellate attorney with Federal Defenders of San Diego. Between them, they have years of experience in the application of federal sentencing law at trial and on appeal, providing students with the most up-to-date and practical knowledge of the field.


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