Comment Opportunity with Sentencing Commission

The United States Sentencing Commission is seeking comments – due August 26, 2011.  Here’s a few matters that merit commenting on the following ten priorities:

  • Continuation of its work on statutory mandatory minimum penalties.
  • Continuation of its work with the congressional, executive, and judicial branches of government, and other interested parties, to study the manner in which United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), and subsequent Supreme Court decisions have affected federal sentencing practices, the appellate review of those practices, and the role of the federal sentencing guidelines.
  • Continuation of its review of departures within the guidelines, including provisions in Parts H and K of Chapter Five of the Guidelines Manual, and the extent to which pertinent statutory provisions prohibit, discourage, or encourage certain factors as forming the basis for departure from the guideline sentence.
  • Resolution 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. 34 (1991), to resolve conflicting interpretations of the guidelines by the federal courts.

In addition to addressing these points, we urge review of the Commission’s guidelines for fraud offenses.  Mary Price, Vice President and General Counsel of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), wrote to WLF expressing the same sentiment.  Here is her letter and call for comments on this important topic:

The United States Sentencing Commission has issued for public comment a list of proposed priorities for the 2012 guideline amendment cycle.  http://www.ussc.gov/Legal/Federal_Register_Notices/20110722_FR_Proposed_Priorities.pdf.

Notably absent from the list is the much anticipated comprehensive review of the guidelines for fraud offenses.  Given the mounting criticism of those guidelines, particularly a loss table that routinely results in stunningly high recommended sentences for first time offenders, we (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) hope you will take the opportunity to write to the Commission and urge it to undertake the review. Continue reading “Comment Opportunity with Sentencing Commission”

The FDA has burnt its hand. Will it now learn a lesson?

The FDA seems rather fond of punishing people – witness the agency’s consistent prosecution of “off-label” speech.  As of late, however, the FDA has misfired in a couple of cases and wrongfully prosecuted innocent companies and individuals.  A conspicuous example of this is the FDA’s recent accusation of Lauren Stevens, the former in-house lawyer at Glaxo-Smith-Kline of lying to the federal government.  This post at the FDA Law Blog shows just how forcefully Judge Roger Titus of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ripped apart the government’s case.

In the wake of the Stevens acquittal, Douglas B. Farquhar of Hyman Phelps posed the big question:  “Will the result in the Lauren Stevens case chill the government’s pursuit of individuals in other circumstances?”

We certainly hope so.  Food and drug companies are quickly becoming some of the most unfairly regulated and prosecuted companies in the country.   The worst part about it is that FDA’s aggressive nature doesn’t just effect these companies in a vacuum; high legal costs and regulatory obstacles translate to ever-higher food and drug prices.  That’s not something we need with the stock market falling and unemployment at 9.2 percent.