The following is an excerpt from the article “Can Federal Sentencing Remain Transparent?” published in the Spring 2019 issue of Judicature.
Criminal trials have virtually disappeared in many federal courtrooms. According to a recent U.S. Sentencing Commission report, “[i]n recent years, 97 percent of federal defendants convicted of a felony or Class A misdemeanor offense are adjudicated guilty based on a guilty plea rather than on a verdict at a trial.” But sentencing has seemed to remain visible. In open court, federal judges traditionally explained to victims, the defendant, and the community the sentences they imposed. Now sentencing’s openness is in jeopardy, as federal prosecutors and defense counsel seek to conceal or disguise defendants’ cooperation with prosecutors or law enforcement and how that cooperation decreases their sentences.
Read the full article here.