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Where Procedure Meets Substance: Making the Most of the Need for Adequate Explanation In Federal Sentencing
By Jennifer Niles Coffin
Some may believe that challenging a district court’s sentencing procedure on appeal is not likely to result in better outcomes because the court will just do a better job on remand addressing arguments and explaining its decision, but still impose the same sentence. But this is not so. When courts of appeals insist that the district courts fully address the evidence and arguments presented by the parties regarding the appropriate sentence, and then explain their decision to accept or reject those arguments, actual outcomes are different on remand, sometimes significantly so. In exercising the review power accorded to them in Booker and further elucidated in Rita, appellate courts can not only promote more fair and reasoned sentences in individual cases, but can also exercise a meaningful role in the evolution of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines envisioned by the Supreme Court. The narrow purpose of this article is to demonstrate that a properly framed appeal resulting in reve
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