Friday, July 24, 2015

SAFE Justice Act Progress and Dorsey

From Kirk --

Editorials in support are here, here, here, here, here, and here. Reform calls range from the Koch Brothers to the ACLU.

If you have a client charged with drug offenses, you should pump the brakes before she or he gets sentenced. Despite the anti-empirical position of the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, the bill seems likely to pass in some form.

So, Dorsey. There, the Court applied the Fair Sentencing Act to conduct predating the Act (but not the sentencing hearing) for six reasons. All would apply to the language of the this bill. 

The third and fourth reasons compel Dorsey’s result under the proposed legislation. Dorsey recognized that the Fair Sentencing Act “implies that Congress intended to follow the Sentencing Reform Act background principle” because the Act required the USSC to issue conforming amendments. The SAFE Justice Act goes a large step further and requires retroactive application of its provisions.

Dorsey’s fourth rationale was to avoid sentencing disparities between those sentenced under the old law and the new. Well…that seems an apt comparison for a total overhaul of federal drug laws.

In sum, Dorsey was a much closer case than we would have if the SAFE Justice Act passes to apply its terms to pre-sentencing defendants. To be SAFE (ha), wait until the bill is decided before proceeding to sentencing.

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