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Compassionate release after FIRST STEP: Should many thousands of ill and elderly federal inmates now be seeking reduced imprisonment in court?

In this post on Friday, I mentioned that I consider the statutory changes to the so-called compassionate release provisions in federal law to the "sleeper provisions" of the FIRST STEP Act.  , titled "Compassionate Release and the First Step Act: Then and Now," reviews some basics of the changes made by the FIRST STEP Act, and on page 3 one finds this account of what I think is a very big deal:  "The most significant change to compassionate release is that the Act provides prisoners the power t...
Tags: Law, US, Doj, Justice Department, Usc, USSC, Michael Horowitz, Bureau of Prisons, Bop, Douglas A Berman, US Sentencing Commission, US Bureau of Prisons


Federal judge rejects Sayfullo Saipov's efforts to block capital prosecution based on Prez Trump's tweets

As reported in this New York Times piece, headlined "Trump’s Tweets Do Not Bar Prosecutors From Seeking Death in Terror Case, Judge Rules," a federal judge yesterday issued a notable ruling in a high-profile capital case. Here are the details: When President Trump said on Twitter that an Uzbek man charged with using a pickup truck to kill eight people “SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY,” the man’s lawyers asked a judge to bar prosecutors from seeking execution, saying the decision had become too politic...
Tags: Twitter, Law, US, New York Times, Manhattan, Justice Department, Trump, Hudson River, Broderick, Jeff Sessions, Douglas A Berman, Prez Trump, Mr Sessions, Sayfullo Saipov, Saipov, Trump s Department of Justice


US Senate confirms William Barr to be US Attorney General (again)

As reported in this NBC News piece, "President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee William Barr was confirmed in the Senate on Thursday to take over the Justice Department as attorney general, where he will oversee special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe." Here is more: Barr, 68, was confirmed in a 54-45 vote that largely fell along party lines. He will be sworn in Thursday afternoon in the Oval Office by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, the White House told NBC News. Barr wa...
Tags: Law, Senate, White House, Russia, US, Alabama, West Virginia, US Senate, Donald Trump, Doj, Justice Department, Senate Judiciary Committee, John Roberts, George H W Bush, AG, Mueller


Former U.S. Counterintelligence Agent Charged With Revealing Classified Information to Iran

The Justice Department has announced an indictment against Monica Elfriede Witt
Tags: Crime, News, Uncategorized, Iran, Military, Justice Department, Onetime


Acting AG Whitaker makes the case that "law enforcement works"

Today in Washington, DC, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker delivered these remarks to the National Sheriffs’ Association’s Winter Conference. The structure and specifics of what he had to say is quite similar to the message delivered by former AG Jeff Sessions in similar settings in years past, and here are notable excerpts speaking to federal enforcement efforts: In the last fiscal year, the Justice Department charged the greatest number of violent crime defendants since we started to t...
Tags: Law, Cdc, Washington, America, Fbi, Department Of Justice, Justice Department, Matthew Whitaker, Douglas A Berman, National Sheriffs ' Association, AG Jeff Sessions, AG Whitaker


On the Monday after the weekend when Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar announced their candidacy for President, is there any new evidence that the NYT has already picked a winner?

Look how the NYT home page structures the coverage this morning (click to enlarge and clarify):I've had the tag "NYT pushes Kamala" since December 29th, when I wrote "The NYT makes its 2020 presidential choice obvious."There are 5 women running in the race for the Democratic Party nomination — so many that I have to stop and try to remember them all. I count on my fingers and I google to check my work. And I feel that the NYT is always there to say, Don't worry, don't be confused, there's Kamala...
Tags: Law, California, Stanford, Elizabeth Warren, Los Angeles, Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Orange County, Donald Trump, Justice Department, Kamala Harris, Democratic Party, Don, HARRIS, Cory Booker, Loyola Law School


Another review of the bad mess surrounding the "good time" fix in the FIRST STEP Act

I have done a few prior FIRST STEP Act implementation posts here and here focused on the problems with immediate application of its "good time" fix.  This recent Mother Jones article, fully headlined "Trump’s One Real Bipartisan Win Is Already Turning Into a Mess: Confusion and division over a provision in the First Step Act has left thousands of well-behaved inmates in limbo," effectively explains the issue and reports on the latest state of affairs. Here are excerpts:   The law stipulates tha...
Tags: Law, Senate, White House, US, Chicago, Iowa, Capitol Hill, Doj, Hakeem Jeffries, Justice Department, Trump, HARRIS, Coleman, Mother Jones, Grassley, Duluth Minnesota


Contextualizing passage of the FIRST STEP Act and its likely echoes

Sociology Prof Michelle Phelps has this notable new Conversation commentary headlined "Congress’s First Step Act reflects a new criminal justice consensus, but will it reduce mass incarceration?". The piece explains why the author thinks "no" is the sensible answer to the question headlining her commentary.  Here are excerpts (with some links from the original preserved): I have found in my research that criminal justice policies and practices in the United States have often followed complex tr...
Tags: Law, Congress, United States, Bill Clinton, Justice Department, Trump, Lyndon Johnson, Barr, Douglas A Berman, Joshua Page, Michelle Phelps, Philip Goodman, William -RSB- Barr


Latest discussion of fixing timing problems with expansion of good-time credit in the FIRST STEP Act

As noted in this post a couple of weeks ago, the expanded good time credits provision in the FIRST STEP Act, which many expected to be applied immediately, problematically got tucked within a section of the Act that is to become effective only when the Attorney General has created "a risk and needs assessment system" later this year.  Now the Washington Examiner has this new article, headlined Drafting error stalls inmate release under Trump plan," about the problem and efforts afoot to address ...
Tags: Law, White House, Doj, Justice Department, Turner, Trump, Washington Examiner, Sloan, American Conservative Union, Ajamu, Douglas A Berman, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Kevin Ring, David Safavian, Pat Cipollone, Veda Ajamu


An Analysis of Title I and Title III of The Music Modernization Act, Part 2 of 2 (Guest Blog Post)

Guest Blog Post by Tyler Ochoa [This is part 2 of a 2-part series on the Music Modernization Act. Check out part 1 before reading this post.] The Musical Works Database One of the most important provisions in the MWM Act is the provision requiring the Collective to “establish and maintain a database containing information relating to musical works (and shares of such works) and, to the extent known, the identity and location of the copyright owners of such works (and shares thereof) and the soun...
Tags: Fcc, Law, Congress, Copyright, House, Dmca, Sirius Xm, Department Of Justice, Justice Department, Cornell, Ucla, D, Sirius, Ascap, Copyright Office, U S District Court


Justice Department revamps consent decree rules: what the press missed

The feds plan to be less heavy-handed in using consent decrees to micromanage states and cities, and there’s a good case for that, I argue at National Review. Alas, as I explain, national media bungled the story in November by characterizing Jeff Sessions’s memo as if it were primarily aimed at reducing oversight of police. “Not once in its seven pages does the word ‘police’ even appear.” My short piece doesn’t take up the question of how the well-documented problems of consent decrees in other ...
Tags: Law, Police, Uncategorized, Department Of Justice, Justice Department, Jeff Sessions, WO writings, Consent Decrees, Federalism, John McGinnis, David Meyer Lindenberg Tim Lynch Scott Greenfield


New commentary at The American Conservative makes the case for "Why Conservatives Should Oppose the Death Penalty"

In prior posts here and here and here, I highlighted a series of lengthy articles in The American Conservative that were part of "a collaborative series with the R Street Institute exploring conservative approaches to criminal justice reform."   These folks are at it again with this new lengthy essay titled simply "Why Conservatives Should Oppose the Death Penalty."  The extendded essay, authored by Arthur Rizer and Marc Hyden of R Street Institute, merits a full read, and here are some excerpts...
Tags: Law, United States, North Carolina, Justice Department, Philly, Douglas A Berman, R Street Institute, Marc Hyden, Arthur Rizer, The American Conservative


Attorney General Nominee Bill Barr reportedly to support FIRST STEP Act at coming hearing (and should be pressed on particulars)

This effective new Reuters article, headlined "Tough-on-crime record trails U.S. attorney general nominee into Senate hearings," reports on how the new AG-nominee's record on criminal justice issues and recent developments could intersect at next week's confirmation hearings. Here are the details: President Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney general is expected to tell a Senate panel next week that he supports a new law easing prison sentences for some criminals, even though he advocated ...
Tags: Law, Congress, Washington Post, Senate, Russia, US, Fbi, House, Moscow, Graham, Donald Trump, Doj, Justice Department, Lindsey Graham, Trump, Reuters


Spotlighting problems with immediate application of expanded good time credit in the FIRST STEP Act

This new Reuters article, headlined "Error in U.S. prisons law means well-behaved inmates wait longer for release," reports on what appears to be a significant drafting hiccup in the expansion of good time credits through the FIRST STEP Act. Here are the details: U.S. prisoners who were expecting earlier release for good behavior, thanks to a new criminal justice law enacted last month, must keep waiting due to an error in the bill, said activists working with the White House to fix the mistake...
Tags: Florida, Law, Congress, Washington, White House, Chicago, Donald Trump, Justice Department, Reuters, AG, Sharon Johnson Coleman, Douglas A Berman, Kevin Ring, Bureau of Prisons BOP, Families Against Mandatory Minimums FAMM, Wyn Hornbuckle


Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly to leave Justice Department after new AG is confirmed

As reported here via Reuters, "Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has overseen the Russian election meddling probe, is preparing to leave the U.S. Department of Justice in coming weeks as President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the department is set to take over, a department official said on Wednesday." Here is more: William Barr, Trump’s pick to replace Sessions who was fired soon after the November midterm congressional elections, is set to appear for a confirmation hearing ne...
Tags: Law, Senate, White House, Russia, Fox News, Donald Trump, Justice Department, Trump, Sanders, Reuters, Senate Judiciary Committee, U S Department of Justice, Moscow Russia, George H W Bush, AG, Barr


Monday round-up

This morning the Supreme Court kicks off the January argument session with oral arguments in two cases. The first is Merck Sharp & Dohme v. Albrecht, which raises questions about whether a state-law failure-to-warn claim is pre-empted by federal law regulating the safety and efficacy of prescription drugs. Elizabeth McCuskey previewed the case for this blog. Garion Liberti and Tayler Woelcke have a preview for Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. The second case today is Obduskey v....
Tags: Texas, Maryland, Supreme Court, Law, Washington Post, Washington, Massachusetts, Bloomberg, Gop, Wyoming, North Carolina, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Department, Cornell, Trump, Round-up


The Diminishing Of The Western Militaries

Beginning with the UK: … last year it launched its ‘Belonging’ recruitment campaign, which assured would-be soldiers that the army is an emotionally correct outfit that provides psychological validation to its recruits. One ad showed a tearful soldier in a jungle opening a letter from a loved one, while his comrades offered him a cup of tea. [ … ] And yet instead of learning from the failures of the ‘Belonging’ campaign, the army has decided to go even further down the road of presenting itself ...
Tags: UK, Department Of Defense, Colombia, Britain, Military, Marine Corps, Abc News, Justice Department, Corps, U S Marine Corps, United States Embassy, Special Forces Group, Army Green Berets, Parris Island South Carolina, Eglin Air Force Base Florida, Daniel Gould


Morning Docket: 01.02.19

* Out of the mouths of babes federal judges: “Those conclusions – that the president’s statements on national security are not always to be taken literally or to be trusted – are legal victories for his Justice Department....” Did you think you’d ever see a something like this written about the U.S. president? That’s our Trump! [USA Today] * A good New Year’s resolution for the federal judiciary? Chief Justice John Roberts says that while progress has been made when it comes to protecting law c...
Tags: Gender, New York, Law, California, Washington Post, Virginia, New York City, Nbc News, Domestic Violence, Hawaii, Courts, National Security, Usa Today, Women's Issues, Donald Trump, Sexual Harassment


Non Sequiturs: 12.30.18

* In 2018, what did Donald Trump talk about when he talked about the courts? Adam Feldman dives into the data to find out. [Empirical SCOTUS] * Speaking of President Trump and the judiciary, he continues to appoint federal judges at a record pace -- but the Democrats are doing everything they can to slow down his progress. [Bench Memos / National Review] * If you care at all about affordable housing, then you should be heartened by these developments in the fight against exclusionary zoning, a...
Tags: Real Estate, Technology, Supreme Court, Law, Scotus, Artificial Intelligence, Health Care, Federal Judges, Department Of Justice, Donald Trump, Justice Department, Litigation, Legal Technology, Litigators, Trump, Adam Feldman


Spotlighting how FIRST STEP Act implementation challenges and uncertainty has already begun

A week ago the FIRST STEP Act was signed into law, and my first post celebrating this achievement stressed the challenging and critical work of implementing the law well.  Today, this new Washington Examiner piece, headlined "Prisoners due for release under First Step Act stuck in limbo," spotlights that implementation difficulties have already begun.  Here are excerpts: President Trump shortened the sentences of thousands of prisoners by signing the First Step Act days before Christmas.  But o...
Tags: Law, Congress, Houston, Doj, Justice Department, Trump, Henderson, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Washington Examiner, DSCC, Shipp, Ajamu, Bureau of Prisons, Republican Study Committee, Douglas A Berman, Steve Henderson


Justice Department Lawyers Unable To Do Their Jobs Thanks To Government Shutdown

Always helpful when the government screws up the way the justice system functions.
Tags: Law, Government, Department Of Justice, Government Shutdown, Justice Department, Quote Of The Day


Power versus discretion: Extraordinary relief and the Supreme Court

In an overwhelming majority of the cases that the Supreme Court hears, the matter at issue has been adjudicated all the way through the lower courts, and comes to the justices only on the far side of a ruling by a federal court of appeals or the highest court of a state or territory. As the justices have reiterated often in recent years, “[o]urs is a court of final review and not first view.” By waiting for most cases to go through multiple layers of review by lower courts, the justices give the...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Obama, Court, United States, Donald Trump, Justice Department, Trump, U S Court of Appeals, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, 7th Circuit, banc U S Court of Appeals, Office of the Solicitor General


SCOTUS for law students: President George H.W. Bush’s Supreme Court legacy

Shortly before his death in 1826, President John Adams was quoted as saying, “My gift of John Marshall to the people of the United States was the proudest act of my life.” Adams was one of the earliest exponents of the view that nominations to the Supreme Court form a very important part of any president’s legacy. Consider the legacy of President George H.W. Bush. Although he served only one four-year-term in the Oval Office, Bush, who died on November 30, had a profound impact on the Supreme Co...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Washington, Senate, White House, Boston, United States, Ronald Reagan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Associated Press, Department Of Justice, John Adams, Donald Trump


After hinting prison term might be in works, federal judge delays Michael Flynn sentencing to allow further cooperation

Given that both the Special Prosecutor and Michael Flynn were advocating for him to receive a sentence without any incarceration, I thought his sentencing today could have ended up being a staid affair.  But, as reported in this BuzzFeed News account, US District Judge Emmet Sullivan had different ideas:  Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, decided to delay his sentencing on Tuesday after a judge harshly criticized him for lying to the FBI and acting as an unregistered agen...
Tags: Law, White House, Russia, US, Barack Obama, Turkey, Fbi, United States, Donald Trump, Justice Department, Trump, Mike Pence, Flynn, Sullivan, Mueller, Michael Flynn


Federal judge frets about trend to conceal from public view information about cooperation sentencing credits

A helpful reader made sure I saw the work of US District Judge D. Brock Hornby published this week online in the ABA Journal discussing the history and recent trends in the federal system concerning defendants getting sentencing credit for cooperation and the pressure to disguise these realities due to concern about the threat of violence against cooperators in federal custody. My understanding is a longer version of this work with appear in the Spring 2019 print issue of Judicature, but the sub...
Tags: Law, US, Justice Department, ABA Journal, Douglas A Berman, Brock Hornby


Wednesday round-up

Amy Howe reports for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court, that the Trump administration yesterday asked the Supreme Court to put a hold on a lower-court ruling that bars enforcement of a new policy prohibiting immigrants who enter the country illegally across the U.S.-Mexico border from requesting asylum. Additional coverage comes from Robert Barnes for The Washington Post, Andrew Chung at Reuters, Bob Egelko at the San Francisco Chronicle, Michael Burke at The Hill, Gr...
Tags: Supreme Court, Law, Washington Post, Mexico, Court, San Francisco, Fox News, Donald Trump, Medicaid, Justice Department, Robbins, Trump, Round-up, Reuters, U S Supreme Court, Robert Barnes


Michael Flynn in sentencing memo requests probation "not to exceed one year ... along with 200 hours of community service."

As reported in , headlined "Flynn pleads with judge for no jail time," a high-profile defendant is asking for a low-impact sentencing outcome. Here are the basics: Michael Flynn’s attorneys asked a federal judge on Tuesday to spare the former Trump national security adviser any jail time because of his “extensive cooperation” with special counsel Robert Mueller. In a 178-page sentencing memo, Flynn’s attorneys pleaded for leniency by citing their client’s “exceptional record of military servic...
Tags: Law, Fbi, United States, Army, Department Of Justice, Justice Department, Trump, U S District Court, Flynn, United States Army, Michael Flynn, Robert Mueller, Emmet Sullivan, Douglas A Berman, FBI Mueller, Motion for Downward Departure


Congress finally enacts "Paroline fix" that should improve victim restitution in federal child porn cases

Long-time readers may recall regularly blogging here about federal district and circuit opinions struggling to figure out whether and how courts could impose restitution awards/punishments on federal offenders convicted only of downloading child pornography images.  Because the child porn restitution questions produced various splits in the lower courts, the Supreme Court took up and "resolved" these issues in Paroline v. US, No. 12-8561 (Apr. 23, 2014) (available here).  But because Paroline re...
Tags: Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Senate, US, House, Chuck Grassley, US Senate, Amy Klobuchar, Department Of Justice, Dianne Feinstein, Justice Department, Andy, Trump, Hatch, Amy


So what does Bill Barr now think about federal criminal justice reforms or state marijuana reforms?

The question in the title of this post is prompted, of course, by this news as reported here by CNN: "President Donald Trump has decided to nominate former Attorney General William Barr to be the next permanent head of the Justice Department, the President told reporters Friday." Here is more: "He will be nominated for the United States attorney general and hopefully that process will go very quickly," Trump added. Barr previously worked at the CIA in the 1970s and served in several leadership ...
Tags: Justice, Law, Congress, Senate, Cnn, United States, House, Nancy Pelosi, Cia, Donald Trump, Doj, Justice Department, Trump, Senate Judiciary Committee, Hill, George H W Bush


Talk of William Barr for Attorney General (and his "Case for More Incarceration")

This new Washington Post article reports that "Former attorney general William P. Barr is President Trump’s leading candidate to be nominated to lead the Justice Department."  Here is more:  Barr, 68, a well-respected Republican lawyer who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, has emerged as a favorite candidate of a number of Trump administration officials, including senior lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office, these people said.  Two people fami...
Tags: Law, Washington Post, White House, Russia, Fbi, Gop, Hillary Clinton, The Washington Post, Verizon Communications, Justice Department, Trump, Kirkland Ellis, George H W Bush, Comey, Mueller, James B Comey



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