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Did an SSRN Paper Influence a Sentencing Decision?

Though judges cite law review articles less frequently than they did twenty years ago, don't discount the relevance of legal scholarship just yet. As a recent federal ruling, U.S. v. Dicus (reducing a sentence as a sanction for prosecutorial misconduct) proves, legal scholarship can have an impact on the outcome of a case, even if a paper hasn't been published in a top journal.

As Professor Doug Berman at the Sentencing Law and Policy reports, a Northern District of Iowa judge reduced a defendant's sentence to punish the prosecution for a serious breach of the terms of the plea agreement. The court came up with this novel approach in part based on the insights of this paper entitled "Sentence Reduction for Prosecutorial Misconduct" posted by Professor Sonja Starr on Social Science Research Network (SSRN).

While Dicus represents a victory for defense attorneys who can cite the ruling as precedent for sentence reductions, law professors like Carissa Hessick at Prawfs Blawg are rejoicing as well because Dicus shows that from time to time, courts still listen when law professors have something worthwhile to say.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on September 25, 2008 at 03:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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