Public Meeting - December 12, 1995

Minutes of the December 12, 1995

United States Sentencing Commission Business Meeting

The meeting was called to order at 10:07 a.m. by Chairman Richard P. Conaboy in the Commissioners' Conference Room. The following commissioners, staff, and guests participated:

  • Richard P. Conaboy, Chairman

  • Michael S. Gelacak, Vice Chairman

  • A. David Mazzone, Vice Chairman

  • Wayne A. Budd, Commissioner

  • Julie E. Carnes, Commissioner

  • Michael Goldsmith, Commissioner

  • Deanell R. Tacha, Commissioner

  • Mary Frances Harkenrider, Ex Officio Commissioner

  • Edward F. Reilly, Jr., Ex Officio Commissioner

  • Phyllis J. Newton, Staff Director

  • Paul K. Martin, Deputy Staff Director

  • John R. Steer, General Counsel

  • Jonathan Wroblewski, Legislative Counsel

  • Cathy Goodwin, Representative, Criminal Law Committee

  • Julie Stewart, President, Families Against Mandatory Minimums

Chairman Conaboy introduced probation officers James M. Patterson (W.D. NC) and C. Warren Maxwell (D. CN), both on temporary assignment to the Commission. He also introduced Tom Brown and Judy Sheon, who recently joined the Office of General Counsel as senior staff attorney and principal technical advisor, respectively.

Motion made by Commissioner Mazzone to adopt the minutes of the October 11, 1995, meeting; seconded by Commissioner Tacha. Passed unanimously.

Motion made by Commissioner Budd to table consideration of retroactive application of the 1995 amendment granting a two-level reduction for safety valve defendants whose offense level is 26 or greater until the next meeting; seconded by Commissioner Goldsmith. Commissioners Budd, Carnes, Conaboy, Goldsmith, and Mazzone voted in the affirmative, with Commissioners Gelacak and Tacha voting against. Passed, 5-2. Commissioner Gelacak voiced his disapproval of deferring consideration. Commissioner Tacha requested the Criminal Law Committee's position on the four proposed options.

Motion made by Commissioner Tacha to publish for comment in the Federal Register the Commission's and DOJ's money laundering proposals from the last amendment cycle, a request for comment on how the Commission's amendment might be modified given Congress's disapproval of the amendment, and an issue for comment regarding implementation of the congressional directives regarding the crack and powder cocaine issue; seconded by Commissioner Carnes. Passed unanimously.

Jonathan Wroblewski reported that the House Crime Subcommittee has scheduled an oversight hearing on the Commission for December 14, 1995. He stated that the subcommittee specifically was concerned with the transfer of discretion from judges to prosecutors and the Commission's authority to deviate from sentencing policy in guidelines when Congress has already spoken on the general policy. In addition, the Subcommittee would like to hear how the guidelines are working and the costs, if any, of implementation. Commissioner Tacha requested a transcript when available.

John Steer reported that legislation relating to child pornography, which contains directives to the Commission and a request for a study, and mandatory restitution, were on the fast-track to passage.

Commissioner Mazzone stated that the Commission is reviewing potential names for a Judges' Advisory Group that would assist the Commission in its ongoing simplification process.

General Counsel Steer reported on a recent Supreme Court decision that narrowed the definition of "use" as it relates to 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1) (use or carry of a gun in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking offense). He also reported that the Supreme Court recently held oral arguments on a case relating to LSD carrier mediums and a First Circuit Court of Appeals' decision that affirmed the Commission's definition of offense statutory maximum as it relates to career offender.

Staff Director Newton reported that the Commission's main focus has been on simplification and the oversight hearing, with work to begin work soon on the annual report. She reported that in January the proceedings book from the corporate symposium would go to the printers and the Commission would be on line to the INTERNET. Chairman Conaboy, on behalf of the commissioners, wished staff a happy holiday.

Chairman Conaboy adjourned the meeting at 11:06 a.m.