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Conference On Criminal Defense Will Focus On Science

Publication Date: 
August 02, 2007
Daily Journal
Tim Hay

The Daily Journal article indicates that Professor Jeffrey Fisher is scheduled to speak at the conference on Criminal Defense:

Jeffrey Fisher, a law professor at Stanford University and a Supreme Court litigator, is scheduled to give two talks about federal sentencing in light of recent high-court decisions.

On Thursday, he will talk about the first full term of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

On Friday, Fisher will join a panel that includes U.S. Attorney Scott Schools of the Northern District of California, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson of Alabama and U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa of Texas to discuss changes to federal sentencing in the wake of several important rulings.

The 2005 decision U.S. v Booker, 543 U.S. 220, "gave us a theoretical ruling," Fisher said, "and the court is still trying to iron it all out."

Booker stated, among other things, that federal sentencing guidelines should be treated as just that, guidelines, and that any fact used to enhance a sentence beyond those guidelines must be proved by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

"But old habits die hard," Fisher said. "Appellate courts still use the guidelines as a measuring stick. The defense bar says district courts now have increased power, as front-line sentencers, but the government is fighting that."

Fisher said he anticipates that upcoming decisions will give federal judges even more leeway in meting out sentences, something the defense bar would celebrate.

"Where we are, it's pregnant with possibility," he said.