It used to be, back before 2005, that the federal sentencing guidelines were mandatory. If you were going to be checking into the United States Bureau of Prisons, the sentencing guidelines determined how long your reservation would be for.
And, it used to be, that if you committed a federal crime, and, between when you committed the crime and were sentenced, the sentencing guidelines went up, the judge had to apply the lower sentencing guidelines from when you committed the crime.
To do otherwise would violate the Ex Post Facto clause.
The sentencing guidelines changed, though, with Booker. Now they aren’t mandatory – they’re just something important that a federal judge has to look at and a federal judge may be risking reversal if she doesn’t follow them.
Got that? The guidelines are totally discretionary. But for the appellate review. Also most federal judges follow the guidelines almost every time. But that’s just a coincidence.
So, since the guidelines are no longer mandatory, but, rather, now just followed in the vast majority of cases, what happens to the Ex Post Facto clause?
One of our favorite legal blogs is Noncuratlex.com, authored by Professor Kyle Graham of Santa Clara Law. The site is extremely funny and insightful, especially if you’re a legal nerd (we plead guilty), and we link to it regularly.
I suppose that’s a rhetorical question. When you live in a nation that’s been reduced to an army of mindless reality-TV-watching drones, it’s not exactly surprising that the average citizen is more inclined to trust a television judge than a jurist who’s been appointed to the highest court in the land.
We care more about the matching camouflage wedding couture Honey Boo Boo’s parents, Mama June and Sugar Bear, wore when they tied the knot this past weekend than the next round of controversial decisions that will be soon be handed down by the Supreme Court. We care more about the Kimye baby bump than the very existence of the Supreme Court, much less the names of the justices sitting on its esteemed bench.
No one who’s been paying any attention is taken aback by the fact that Americans care more about the people they see on television on a daily basis than names they once read in a textbook. That’s why the results of the latest Reader’s Digest Trust Poll as to this country’s judges are expected, and sad, and not at all surprising….
Late last week, Time magazine released the Time 100, its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. This year, even more lawyers were present on the list than in last year’s troop, and many of them are considered household names.
Although lawyers now represent about 14 percent of this list, only a handful of them were recognized for their work in the legal profession. Some of the representative career alternatives for attorneys on this list include leaders of the free world, fashion icons, and arbiters of athletic fairness.
So which legal eagles soared into the Time 100, and were there any repeat honorees? Let’s find out….
I don’t want to alarm you, but this is going to be bad news for some of you — possibly even a lot of you. The last few days have been tough for all of us. Emotional. Controversial. Traumatic, even. News like this comes along once, maybe twice, in a lifetime. Obviously, I’m referring to the treatise that was recently released in Princeton University’s student newspaper, the Daily Princetonian, in the form of a letter to the editor addressed to “the young women of Princeton.”
The author of this editorial, noted socio-anthropological scholar divorced former housewife and Princeton alum, Susan A. Patton, caused quite a stir when she implored — nay, demanded — that the young women of Princeton “find a husband on campus before you graduate” because “for most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.” She then drove the point home by noting that she recently completed a “horrible” divorce, after 27 years of marriage, to a man whose “academic background was not as luxurious as mine, and that was a source of some stress.” Indeed.
Susan A. Patton, while I admire your grammar, I have to respectfully disagree with you. Because you failed to cite one obvious point: Even if a young lady has managed to escape the wilds of New Jersey without nailing down a trip to Zales, she still has one more shot: law school. Well, let’s be clear — a T14 law school….
Looking back, the part of last week’s arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court that stands out most for me is the last hour (DOMA merits) — a fitting finale to two days of historic argument on same-sex marriage.
The way things unfolded, the last hour is why we all came. It is why people slept on the sidewalk for days. It is why Americans tuned in and logged on for updates. It is why the attorneys signed up to argue.
We were there to discuss the future of marriage in this country, how different people see it, and where state and federal governments fit in.
The Prop 8 argument went to those core issues the day before, but in fits and starts. A muddy hybrid of standing and merits.
The last hour of DOMA went there and stayed there. Merits were the only thing on the menu, and we ate it up….
Looking at my notes from today’s United States v. Windsor argument on DOMA at the U.S. Supreme Court, “$Q” is everywhere. That’s my shorthand for “money quote.” The merits part of the argument was $Q after $Q, moments that made an impact, in some cases if only to show where a justice might be headed.
Here are five. Look forward to bringing you more in-depth analysis of the argument in the next couple of days.
[S]uppose a State said that, “Because we think that the focus of marriage really should be on procreation, we are not going to give marriage licenses anymore to any couple where both people are over the age of 55.” Would that be constitutional?
(This exchange led to a wildly entertaining political ad parody about the dangers of old people marrying, produced by the Daily Dolt. Because if there’s anything that’s “worse” than gay marriage, it’s gray marriage! Please continue reading to see the video; you can thank us later.)
How many push-ups can RBG do? Probably more than you can.
How do federal judges maintain taut abs and tight buns underneath their robes? They all have their own special methods.
For some, it’s about diet. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, for example, has a four-word diet: “Few carbs, less sugar.”
Other judges believe in aerobic exercise. The ranks of runners include retired Justice David H. Souter, whose exercise regimen turned him into a judicial hottie (“Certiorari is GRANTED to that hot, lean body!”); Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson (4th Cir.), whose failure to cross train got critcized by President Bush during a Supreme Court interview; Judge Denny Chin (2d Cir.), a veteran marathoner; and Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain (9th Cir.), my former boss.
But maybe running is for wimps? For the women of One First Street, weight training is the order of the day. Let’s meet the personal trainer helping two of the justices get HUGE….
* OMG! Get ready to have a lawgasm, because the Supreme Court is going to be releasing same-day audio recordings from oral arguments during next week’s gay marriage cases: Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. [National Law Journal]
* “Way to go, Justice.” Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan work out with a personal trainer who’s got a client list that would make Article III Groupie swoon — and he just so happens to be a records manager at D.C.’s federal court. [Washington Post]
* Debevoise & Plimpton’s littlest litigatrix, Mary Jo White, sailed her way through the Senate Banking Committee with a vote of 21-to-1. Her nomination to lead the SEC will now head to the full Senate. [DealBook / New York Times]
* “Our 2012 numbers aren’t as good as we would have liked.” Gee, ya think? From attorney headcount to gross revenue to profits per partner, just about everything was down in 2012 for Fried Frank. [Am Law Daily]
* Eckert Seamans will be merging with Sterns & Weinroth, adding 17 partners and seven associates to its ranks. Someone please come up with the semen joke so I don’t have to. [Philadelphia Business Journal]
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The Trust Women conference is an influential gathering that brings together global corporations, lawyers and pioneers in the field of women’s rights. Unlike many other events, Trust Women delegates take action and forge tangible commitments to empower women to know and defend their rights.
This year, the Trust Women conference will take place 18-19 November in London. From women’s economic empowerment to slavery in the supply chain and child labour, this year’s agenda is strong and powerful. Speakers include Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking and many other influential leaders. Find out more about Trust Women here.