Sentencing Commission Report Finds Increases In Sentencing Differences Among Judges In 30 Major Cities
The United States Sentencing Commission released its report titled Intra-City Differences In Federal Sentencing Practices: Federal District Judges in 30 Cities, 2005-2017(link is external). Here are some of the report's key findings:
Overall increases in sentencing differences among judges in 30 major cities since 2005 are consistent with the Commission's findings in its 2012 Booker Report regarding intra-district sentencing differences-- demonstrating that differences persist, 13 years after Booker and six years after the 2012 analysis
The Commission's current analysis measured judges' average percent differences from the guideline minimums in their cases in relation to their city's average during three periods between 2005 and 2017. It demonstrated a clear increase in the extent of differences in sentencing practices in a majority of the cities studied following the Supreme Court's 2005 decision in Booker and continuing after the Court's 2007 decisions in Gall and Kimbrough. The overall trend continued, although to lesser extent, in the six years following the last period analyzed in the Commission's 2012 Booker Report.
Not all of the 30 cities experienced the same changes in differences in sentencing practices since 2005. In some cities, particularly the ones with the largest number of judges, the increases in differences were substantial. However, in other cities, the increases were modest, and a few cities experienced decreases in the extent of sentencing differences among their judges since 2005.
In most cities, the length of a defendant's sentence increasingly depends on which judge in the courthouse is assigned to his or her case.