Douglas Berman

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Douglas A. Berman is a professor of criminal law and sentencing at Ohio State University and author of Sentencing Law and Policy–the first blog cited by the U.S. Supreme Court–and the Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform blog. He is frequently consulted for his expertise on capital sentencing by national policymakers, lawyers, and major media publications.

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With apologies to Samuel Beckett, the following script came to mind t capture how I am feeling after another morning of SCOTUS rulings without a decision in one interesting criminal case argued way back in early October: ESTRAGON: Charming spot. (He refreshes SCOTUSblog.) Inspiring prospects. (He turns to Vladimir.) Let’s do some other work. VLADIMIR: We can’t. ESTRAGON: Why not? VLADIMIR: We’re waiting for Gundy. ESTRAGON: (despairingly). Ah! (Pause.) You’re sure it won’t be DIGed?…
The question in the title of this post is prompted by the one notable criminal justice element of the Supreme Court’s order list this morning. At the very end of a relatively short order list, Justice Alito (joined by Justice Thomas) dissents from the Court’s decision to GVR a case back to the Eleventh Circuit (which is what the US Solicitor General urged the Court to do).  Here is the full dissent: The Court…
This new Atlantic article, headlined “The Search for Progressive Judges,” highlights how activists who have sought to elect a new wave of progressive prosecutors are now turning attention to judicial elections. Here are excerpts: It used to be unheard of for Philadelphia judges to reject a negotiated sentence in these resentencings — until Larry Krasner, arguably the most progressive prosecutor in the country, took over the city’s district attorney’s office in January 2018 and…
Marc Levin, who serves as Vice President for Right on Crime, has two great new “Policy Perspective” briefs on parole and probation systems. Below are the titles, links and “Key Points” from the start of both great documents: Ten Tips for Policymakers for Parole Key Points • The criteria for deciding who is paroled should be objective and focused on reducing risks to public safety going forward. • Parole boards should possess a diverse…
I noted here back in 2017 an interesting opinion in US v. Haymond where a Tenth Circuit panel declared unconstitutional the procedures used for revocation of a sex offender’s supervised release.  The Supreme Court also found the case interesting because, as reported here, the Justices in 2018 accepted the petition for certiorari filed by the feds.  The SCOTUSblog page on Haymond has links to all the briefing. As reported in this prior post, I have a…
The title of this post is the title of this new essay authored by Rory Little and available via SSRN. Here is its abstract: During his 43 years as a federal appellate judge, Anthony M. Kennedy authored over 350 opinions in cases relevant to criminal law (although establishing a precise number using various electronic databases offers a cautionary tale). Below I offer four general themes that emerge from my review of Justice Kennedy’s written work…
Frequently, when I come across interesting criminal justice news pieces or commentary while working on other matters, I will email the link to myself with the hope I will find time later to blog about the item.  This week seemed to lead to an especially large number of these items in my in-box, and so I will blogging about them all through this round up.    A few of these pieces are news accounts of…
The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper now available on SSRN authored by Paul Crane. Here is its abstract: A curious relationship currently exists between collateral consequences and criminal procedures.  It is now widely accepted that collateral consequences are an integral component of the American criminal justice system.  Such consequences shape the contours of many criminal cases, influencing what charges are brought by the government, the content of plea…
The title of this post is the title of this new article authored by William Berry available via SSRN. Here is its abstract: The Supreme Court has almost systematically expanded the Eighth Amendment over the past decade and a half, proscribing categorical limitations to the death penalty and juvenile life without parole.  With Justice Kennedy’s recent retirement, this expansion seems like it might be ending.  As this door is closing, however, another door may be…
As reported in this extended AP piece, two states carried out executions this evening.  Here are the details: A man convicted of killing his wife decades ago at a camping center he managed in Memphis was put to death Thursday in Tennessee.  Separately, a man condemned to die for his role in a quadruple killing that followed a dispute over a pickup truck was put to death Thursday evening in Alabama, declining to make…