Federal Register Notice of Proposed 2007 Priorities and Request for Public Comment



Sentencing Guidelines for United States Courts

AGENCY: United States Sentencing Commission

ACTION: Notice of proposed priorities. Request for public comment.

SUMMARY: As part of its statutory authority and responsibility to analyze sentencing issues, including operation of the federal sentencing guidelines, and in accordance with Rule 5.2 of its Rules of Practice and Procedure, the Commission is seeking comment on possible priority policy issues for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2008.

DATE: Public comment should be received on or before August 23, 2007.

ADDRESS: Send comments to: United States Sentencing Commission, One Columbus Circle, NE, Suite 2-500, South Lobby, Washington, DC 20002-8002, Attention: Public Affairs-Priorities Comment.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Courlander, Public Affairs Officer, Telephone: (202) 502-4590.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The United States Sentencing Commission is an independent agency in the judicial branch of the United States Government. The Commission promulgates sentencing guidelines and policy statements for federal sentencing courts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 994(a). The Commission also periodically reviews and revises previously promulgated guidelines pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 994(o) and submits guideline amendments to the Congress not later than the first day of May each year pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 994(p).

The Commission provides this notice to identify tentative priorities for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2008. The Commission recognizes, however, that other factors, such as the enactment of any legislation requiring Commission action, may affect the Commission’s ability to complete work on any of the tentative priorities by the statutory deadline of May 1, 2008. Accordingly, it may be necessary to continue work on some of these issues beyond the amendment cycle ending on May 1, 2008.

As so prefaced, the Commission has identified the following tentative priorities:

(1) Implementation of crime legislation enacted during the 110th Congress warranting a Commission response, including (A) the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007, Pub. L. 110–22 ; and (B) any other legislation authorizing statutory penalties or creating new offenses that requires incorporation into the guidelines.

(2) Continuation of its work with Congress and other interested parties on cocaine sentencing policy to implement the recommendations set forth in the Commission’s 2002 and 2007 reports to Congress, both entitled Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy, and to develop appropriate guideline amendments in response to any related legislation.

(3) Continuation of its work with the congressional, executive, and judicial branches of the government and other interested parties on appropriate responses to United States v. Booker and United States v. Rita, including any appropriate amendments to the guidelines or other changes to the Guidelines Manual to reflect those decisions, as well as continuation of its monitoring and analysis of post-Booker federal sentencing practices, data, case law, and other feedback, including reasons for departures and variances stated by sentencing courts.

(4) Continuation of its policy work regarding immigration offenses, specifically, offenses sentenced under §§2L1.1 (Smuggling, Transporting, or Harboring an Unlawful Alien) and 2L1.2 (Unlawfully Entering or Remaining in the United States) and implementation of any immigration legislation that may be enacted.

(5) Continuation of its policy work, in light of the Commission’s prior and ongoing research on criminal history, to develop and consider possible options that might improve the operation of Chapter Four (Criminal History).

(6) Continuation of guideline simplification efforts with consideration and possible development of options that might improve the operation of the sentencing guidelines.

(7) Resolution of a number of circuit conflicts, pursuant to the Commission’s continuing authority and responsibility, under 28 U.S.C. § 991(b)(1)(B) and Braxton v. United States, 500 U.S. 344 (1991), to resolve conflicting interpretations of the guidelines by the federal courts.

(8) Preparation and dissemination, pursuant to the Commission’s authority under 28 U.S.C. § 995(a)(12)-(16), of research reports on various aspects of federal sentencing policy and practice, including information on any amendments that might be appropriate in response to those reports.

The Commission hereby gives notice that it is seeking comment on these tentative priorities and on any other issues that interested persons believe the Commission should address during the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2008. Further, with respect to items (7) and (8), the Commission requests specific comment regarding what circuit conflict issues it should address and what research topics it should consider.

To the extent practicable, public comment should include the following: (1) a statement of the issue, including scope and manner of study, particular problem areas and possible solutions, and any other matters relevant to a proposed priority; (2) citations to applicable sentencing guidelines, statutes, case law, and constitutional provisions; and (3) a direct and concise statement of why the Commission should make the issue a priority.

AUTHORITY: 28 U.S.C. § 994(a), (o); USSC Rules of Practice and Procedure 5.2.


Ricardo H. Hinojosa,