Public Meeting - February 21, 1995

Minutes of the February 21, 1995

United States Sentencing Commission Business Meeting

The meeting was called to order at 1:12 p.m. by Chairman Richard P. Conaboy in the training rooms of the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building. The following commissioners, staff, and guest 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

  • Jo Ann Harris, 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

  • Win Swenson, Legislative Counsel

  • Nkechi Taifa, Representative, American Civil Liberties Union


Chairman Conaboy introduced probation officers Steven E. Horne (E.D. N.C.), Donald M. Osborne (S.D. TX), and assistant deputy chief Rodney R. Huebner (W.D.WI), all on temporary assignment to the Commission. He also introduced Paul Hofer and Tim McGrath, who both recently joined the Commission as Director of Special Projects and Executive Assistant to the Chairman, respectively.

Motion made by Commissioner Budd to adopt the minutes of the January 10, 1995, meeting, with the addition of his name to the list of participants; seconded by Commissioner Tacha. Passed unanimously.

Chairman Conaboy, speaking to the development of the crack report, stated that staff diligently worked to have it completed. He stated that although originally the report was due to Congress on December 30, 1994, the Commission had received a 60-day extension for completion.

Commissioner Gelacak stated that the congressional mandate required the Commission to submit a report to Congress on (i) issues relating to sentences applicable to offenses involving the possession or distribution of all forms of cocaine; (ii) the differences in penalty levels that apply to different forms of cocaine; and (iii) any recommendations that the Commission may have for retention or modification of such differences in penalty levels. He stated that the Commission, in addressing this directive, focused on the ratio involved with the differential between crack and powder cocaine. Commissioner Gelacak, on behalf of the Commission, expressed his appreciation to Lou Reedt, Jonathan Wroblewski, Marguerite Driessen, John Scalia, Kevin Blackwell, Andrea Mayer, Paul Hofer, Phyllis Newton, John Steer, and Paul Martin for their tremendous efforts in completing the Report.

Motion made by Commissioner Gelacak to issue to Congress the report relating to the differential between crack and powder cocaine and release it for public dissemination on February 28, 1995; seconded by Commissioner Tacha. Passed unanimously.

Chairman Conaboy stated that the Commission would later address the reports on fraud against the elderly, intentional HIV exposure, and penalties for federal rape cases in a telephone conference. He stated that the reports would be sent to Congress by their due date of March 13, 1995.

Win Swenson, reporting on crime legislation, stated that the House of Representatives divided its omnibus crime bill into seven smaller bills and has passed six of them relating to issues such as mandatory restitution, prison grants, and the exclusionary rule. He stated that the seventh bill, relating to mandatory penalties for firearm offenses and the semiassault weapons ban, would be addressed in the spring. In terms of Senate crime legislation, he reported that its omnibus legislation contains provisions, such as further limiting the "safety valve" and mandatory minimum penalties, that directly affect sentencing. The Senate is currently in the process of holding hearings on various crime-related issues.

Staff Director Newton, reporting on Commission activities, stated that the Commission published its first edition of the newsletter, Guide Lines. She stated that it would be published whenever the Commission had important news to disseminate. She also reported that work on the annual report was progressing and that the report should be in draft form shortly. Staff Director Newton reported on some of the Commission activities commemorating Black History Month, including video presentations, an art exhibit, and panel discussions.

Motion made by Commissioner Tacha to adjourn into executive session; seconded by Commissioner Goldsmith. Passed unanimously.

Chairman Conaboy adjourned the meeting into executive session at 1:39 p.m.