The Sentencing Guidelines regularly create unjust results in white collar cases. Loss calculations, which are not tethered to reality or related to actual culpability, produce sentences that are astoundingly high and do not serve the goals of sentencing. The risk of being sentenced under these draconian guidelines effectively precludes defendants from exercising their Sixth Amendment right to a trial.
The right to have a neutral, third party review the evidence and facts is fundamental to the foundation of our criminal justice system. However, even if a defendant has minimal culpability or a strong defense, faced with a sentence of twenty, thirty or more years, a defendant will almost always forego his right to a trial. Prosecutors have unlimited discretion over charging decisions and, therefore, the power to deter the accused from exercising their right to a fair trial.
Resources on white collar sentencing and possible reform are available below:
General Sentencing Resources
Sentencing Case Materials
U.S. Sentencing Commission Materials (www.ussc.gov)
Department of Justice (DOJ) Policies and Publications
Law Reviews and Other Publications
Pictured: Seminar Co-Chair and retired Judge Nancy Gertner moderating the "Sentencing: Getting Outside the Guidelines" panel on September 23, 2011, at NACDL's 7th Annual Defending the White Collar Case Seminar.