News Release

U.S. Sentencing Commission
One Columbus Circle NE
Washington, DC 20002-8002

For Immediate Release
January 13, 2009

Contact: Michael Courlander
Public Affairs Officer
(202) 502-4597


Commission Seeks to Benefit from Broad Range of Defense Bar Practitioners

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 13, 2009) – The United States Sentencing Commission announced today the adoption of a formal written charter for its standing advisory group that provides the Commission insight and advice on the operation of the federal sentencing guidelines from the private defense bar perspective. The Practitioners Advisory Group (PAG), was initially formed in 1989 and provides input to the Commission on policies, sentencing procedures, and proposed guideline amendments. The advisory group also disseminates information regarding sentencing issues to the criminal defense community through its membership.

The new PAG charter includes several provisions aimed at ensuring that a diverse cross-section of the private defense bar is well-represented in providing input to the Commission on federal sentencing matters. Among the provisions are requirements that the PAG’s membership be composed of defense practitioners from across the nation, ensuring geographic diversity. In addition, the charter empowers the chair and vice chair of the PAG to appoint attorneys and other professionals in criminal defense fields as non-voting members to ensure that the Commission will be able to benefit from the knowledge of a full range of experts in the criminal defense community.

Simultaneous with the adoption of this charter, the Commission announced the appointment to the PAG of two attorneys highly versed in federal criminal defense matters: David Debold of Washington, D.C., as the initial chair under the new charter and Todd A. Bussert of New Haven, Connecticut, as the initial vice chair.

David Debold joined the Washington, D.C. office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in 2003. He practices in the Litigation Department, with special emphasis on appellate matters, internal investigations and complex civil and criminal cases. Prior to joining Gibson Dunn, Mr. Debold was an assistant United States attorney in Detroit, Michigan, where he served in both the criminal and appellate divisions. In 1991 he served as special counsel to the Commission and has lectured nationally on federal sentencing issues. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, and was a law clerk to the Honorable Cornelia G. Kennedy of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit..

Todd A. Bussert is a criminal defense attorney with substantial experience in sentencing and post-conviction issues. Mr. Bussert previously served as an associate director of client services for the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives. He is co-chair of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Corrections Committee, a member of Families Against Mandatory Minimums Litigation Advisory Board, the past co-chair of the American Bar Association Corrections and Sentencing Committee, and a former visiting lecturer in law at Yale Law School.

The initial chair will serve a full three-year term, and the initial vice chair will serve a term reduced to two years because of an initial staggering of terms.

The Commission, an independent agency in the judicial branch of the federal government, was organized in 1985 to develop a national sentencing policy for the federal courts. The resulting sentencing guidelines provide a structure for federal sentencing to help ensure that similar offenders who commit similar offenses receive similar sentences. The Commission routinely receives input from Federal Public Defenders, the United States Department of Justice, the courts, the public, and other government agencies through its public comment and public hearing process and from its other standing advisory groups, the Probation Officers Advisory Group (POAG) and Victims Advisory Group (VAG).