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Seventh Circuit Reverses District Court's Decision to Increase Sentence: Over at Sentencing Law and Policy, Doug Berman posts on the Seventh Circuit's decision US v. England, No. 08-2440.  According to Berman, the panel found error in the district court's decision to increase a defendant's sentence based on its belief that the defendant would have committed attempted murder if he were free on bond.  The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded for re-sentencing because "due process requires that sentencing determinations be based on reliable evidence, not speculation or unfounded allegations." Apparently, the Seventh Circuit did not like that the district court did not have enough evidentiary support for its conclusion that England would attempt murder if he were free.  While the Circuit did not require the district judge to repeat its analysis in re-sentencing, it did require that the district court base its sentence on more than "reliance on a finding that England would have attempted murder if out on bond unless further evidence is adduced which would justify such a conclusion."

Justice Ginsburg Returns Home:  Kristina Moore reports on SCOTUSblog that Justice Ginsburg is recuperating at home with some positive news - her pancreatic cancer has been diagnosed as TNM Stage 1 by doctors.  Her lymph nodes tested negative for cancer and no metastasis was found.  Tony Mauro at Blog of the Legal Times also has a post with the text of the Supreme Court announcement.

Judicial Nominations in the Fourth Circuit Might be "Blue Slipped":  At Blog of the Legal Times, David Ingram posts on the possibility of an old practice of the Senate Judiciary Committee, known as the "blue slip," could affect the 4 vacancies left on the Fourth Circuit.  Ingram writes that although President Obama has the opportunity "shift the balance" on the Fourth Circuit, the Senate Judiciary Committee's tradition of allowing a state's two senators to weigh in on the President's nominee could stall some of his nominations.  Under the tradition, the Committee chairman sends each senator a form known as a "blue slip."  The senator can withhold support for the nominee for any reason, including partisanship, by failing to return the slip.  At times, this has been enough to foil an nomination.  According to Ingram, the current Chairman, Patrick Leahy, has commented that he is in talks with with Sen. Arlen Specter on how to apply the "blue slip" tradition to any Fourth Circuit nominations.  

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