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Monday, January 25, 2010

Setencing Guidelines Haiku

I am preparing a serious post reflecting on the continuing relevance of the dichotomy in ethical theory between emphasis on character and emphasis on rules (virtue ethics vs. deontology and utilitarianism) as one teaches criminal procedure.  I will reflect on Officer Bart Turek and what insights we can draw from moral philosophy about what sorts of criminal procedure rules to adopt in a world of actual or potential Bart Tureks.  I will also reflect on the bases for our intuitions about the propriety of expanding or contracting the scope of discretion given to cops and judges, respectively, at either end of the process. 

That’s a lot of reflecting.  So before getting there, I thought I’d share some poetry.  Below the fold you’ll find some sentencing guidelines haiku.  Share them freely!  The world needs to appreciate the true poetry in the guidelines.  I took to writing these, and solicited others from my colleagues, after seeing an offer made by a colleague in a fraud case that read as follows: “Official victim; used i.d. to make i.d.: ten to sixteen months.”  I expect the full three-volume set will be published posthumously.

 (I am the author of all of these but the last one, for which I supplied only the title.)

Judge Walton didn’t get
To sentence Scooter Libby
On abuse of trust.

“But I lied in an
Investigation that didn’t
lead to a charge!” Tough.

18 U.S.C . § 3553(a) and United States v. Gall, in two stanzas
If the Guidelines and
Thirty-five fifty-three-(a)
Are at odds, who wins?

Litigating the
Parsimony provision
Is Sisyphean.       

5K3.1 and 18 U.S.C . § 3553(a)
Prime example of
“Warranted disparity”:
Borders get fast track.

2D1.1(c)(3) and (c)(7)
A kilo of coke
Versus a kilo of crack:
Five years / fifteen years.

A kilo of weed
(Which will make a lot of joints)
Will get you six months.

The Parties’ Views of §3B1.2 in Border-Bust Fast Track Cases: a Dialogue

Defense Counsel:
    He did an hour’s work
    For someone high above him
    Who took the profits.

The Court:
    That’s not minor role:
    The crime is importation,
    And you crossed the car!

The Government:
    We hope you will not
    Sentence above the range and
    Give us an appeal.

Comparing 2B1.1 with 2Q2.1 from the perspective of the Southern District of California

Three pages describe
Offenses involving fish.
None for border lies.

Posted by Caleb Mason on January 25, 2010 at 05:16 PM | Permalink


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I vaguely remember someone pretty important once writing, "There is nothing new under the sun." For some pretty awesome subject-matter specific legal haikus, see 32 Stanford Law Review 229 (1979).

Posted by: Poet | Jan 25, 2010 9:28:22 PM

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