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Law professor defends Biden’s SCOTUS pick, says sentencing guidelines for child porn are ‘too harsh’


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A law professor and sentencing policy expert has argued against accusations that President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, handed down lenient sentences to sex offenders and child predators .

Professor Douglas A. Berman of Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law argued in a post on his “Sentencing Law and Policy” blog that “any review of Judge Jackson’s CP [child pornography] sentencing must include proper context regarding federal sentencing guidelines for CP, which are widely recognized as dysfunctional and unduly harsh. »

Ketanji Brown Jackson, appointed U.S. Circuit Judge for the Circuit of the District of Columbia, testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on pending judicial appointments on Capitol Hill, April 28, 2021 in Washington, DC
(Photo by Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images)

Berman went on to quote a recent report by the US Sentencing Commission which explains that the sentencing guideline for child pornography fails “to adequately distinguish between the most serious and the least serious offenders” and that “most courts believe [the guideline] is generally too serious and does not appropriately measure the culpability of the offender in the typical case of non-production child pornography. »

Law professor defends Biden’s SCOTUS pick, says sentencing guidelines for child porn are ‘too harsh’

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson speaks after President Joe Biden announced Jackson as his Supreme Court nominee in the Cross Hall of the White House, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, in Washington.
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“With CP’s guidelines ‘overly harsh’ and ill-conceived to ‘measure offender culpability’ in the digital age, federal judges across the country rarely follow them,” Berman wrote. “Indeed, data from recent (and past) USSC reports indicate that Judge Jackson’s record of handing below-guideline CP sentences is quite common because: (1) federal judges in the countries typically sentence sentences below the CP guideline in about 2 out of 3 cases (p. 23), and (2) federal judges nationwide, when deciding to go below the guideline of the CP, generally impose sentences of approximately 54 months below the calculated minimum of the guideline (p. 25).”

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Berman explained how, after reviewing the nine child pornography cases convicted by Jackson, he was struck by the fact that the prosecution had argued for a sentence below the guideline in five of the nine cases. In three others, he said, the prosecution pleaded only for the indicative minimum.

“In other words, Judge Jackson generally convicted CP defendants in cases in which even the prosecution concluded that mitigating factors meant that the guidelines were not an appropriate benchmark range in light of the purposes of condemnation from Congress,” Berman wrote.

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“In other words, Judge Jackson’s record in these CP cases shows that she is quite skeptical of the ranges set by CP guidelines, but so are prosecutors in the majority of her cases. , as are the country’s district judges (appointed by the presidents of both parties),” Berman added.

Berman’s post was in response to a Twitter thread from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who pointed out Jackson’s record as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission and argued that she had a habit of “letting juvenile porn offenders off the hook”.

Law professor defends Biden’s SCOTUS pick, says sentencing guidelines for child porn are ‘too harsh’

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., meets with U.S. Supreme Court nominee and Federal Court of Appeals Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, in his office at the United States Capitol in Washington, DC, on March 9, 2022.
(Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein)

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Hawley told Politico after meeting Jackson that he “personally” liked him, but had issues with his criminal record.

When reached for comment on his post, Berman replied, “Has Senator Hawley or anyone else questioned or disputed my post? You are welcome to use what I say over there in your job.”

A spokesperson for Hawley’s office directed Fox News to an op-ed written by the senator outlining his concerns about Jackson’s case.


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