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Supreme Court to hear federal sentencing guidelines cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] granted certiorari in two cases Friday to clarify the law on federal sentencing guidelines. The cases, Claiborne v. United States, 06-5618, and Rita v. United States, 06-5754, were selected from dozens of similarly-themed appeals to address the issue of the reasonableness of sentence lengths below and within the guidelines, and come to the high court from the Eighth Circuit [Claiborne opinion, PDF] and Fourth Circuit, [Rita opinion] respectively. The New York Times has more.

In January 2005 the Supreme Court held in United States v. Booker [opinion] that the decades-old federal sentencing guidelines set forth in the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 [text, PDF] were advisory, not mandatory. The new cases, to be argued early next year, are expected to clarify lower courts' discretionary power under the Booker holding.

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