Sentencing Advocacy – 6868

Spring 2019

Sentencing advocacy has assumed the vanguard position of criminal defense. In what the Supreme Court has acknowledged has become an essentially administrative system of criminal justice, sentencing advocacy is now a critical - in some cases, the only - component in the criminal defense lawyer's arsenal, and the site of some of the most sophisticated developments in the litigation of criminal cases. Taking this understanding as its backdrop, this class explores the role of sentencing advocacy in state and federal sentencing systems, the factors that influence its quality, and the insights from social scientists that can critique and improve it. The class will introduce the students to several guest speakers (defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges, social scientists and mitigation specialists) who will put the role and quality of sentencing advocacy in perspective. Most significantly, students will learn themselves, through hands-on involvement in actual pending cases, how to strategize, research, and develop an effective sentencing petition. Thus, the class instructor will seek out cutting-edge/novel/interesting sentencing issues in the cases of court-appointed lawyers in state and federal cases for which students can draft the sentencing memoranda, research the sentencing guideline and mitigation issues, and develop the client’s counter-narrative to the prosecutor’s position (all with the appointed lawyer’s consent). The students’ work in this class will be subject to a strict confidentiality protocol developed in consultation with the Director of the Law Clinics.