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Court Returns Sentencing Power To Judges


In two decisions, Gall v. United States and Kimbrough v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court holds that federal district judges can deviate from federal sentencing guidelines to impose what they think are reasonable sentences. They may not impose sentences above the range written into law, but they can impose sentences higher or lower than the federal guidelines, which are issued by the United States Sentencing Commission. The guidelines are only “a starting point” in determining a sentence, the Court says.