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Blog Scan

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Post-Booker Sentencing Disparities:  At Sentencing Law and Policy, Doug Berman posts on the "blame game" for the increasing number of sentencing disparities taking place in courts.  As our News Scan demonstrates, sentencing disparities have recently been the subject of some media criticism, and Berman comments that it may not be fair to blame judges for the increased disparity in sentencing outcomes after Booker.  Berman believes that judges are probably the least likely to blame for sentencing disparities, and instead places blame on Congress, the U. S. Sentencing Commission, The Supreme Court and the circuit courts, and the Justice Department.  Berman believes these actors deserve more blame than judges, because sentencing judges are "principally focus on achieving individualized justice in the individual cases they address each day."  Ashby Jones comments on today's Wall Street Journal article on WSJ's Law Blog. 

Sex Offender Residency Restrictions in the California Supreme Court: 
At Sex Crimes yesterday, Corey Rayburn Yung posted on oral arguments in a California case addressing sex offender residency restrictions.  Yung's post expands on the media coverage of the case, briefly mentioned in Monday's News Scan, and adds that the "California case could be important in the overall scheme of residency restriction law."  Yung believes that because California is the most high profile state to have its highest court review sex offender registry restrictions, the decision could have a wide effect.  A decision is expected within 90 days of oral arguments.

Can Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Be Legal Malpractice?: 
That's what Jonathan Adler wonders on Volokh Conspiracy.  Adler's post notes that "it is rare that defense attorneys are sanctioned for providing inadequate assistance to capital defendants," even though it is commonly claimed by capital defendants in their appeals. This could be because it deters criminal defense attorneys from taking capital cases, but it could also lead some attorneys to "tank" bad cases.  Adler points to the the Sixth Circuit holding in Johnson v. Mitchell as an example.  Johnson is the rare case of a defense attorney who secured a new capital trial by arguing that the defendant's first defense attorney was ineffective for failing to investigate the defendant's background for potential mitigation evidence.  The same attorney then proceeded to make the same error when he represents the defendant in the new trial.  Adler wonders whether the attorney's deficient representation was a product of incompetence or design.  He also believes the attorney should be sanctioned.  

Specter Speaks, He Wants the Justices on T.V.:
  At Blog of Legal Times, David Ingram reports on Senator Specter's (D-PA) Senate floor speech advocating televising sessions of the U. S. Supreme Court.  According to Ingram, the Senator's speech was meant to get a "sense of the Senate" and  line up his colleagues behind a resolution to place cameras in the Supreme Court.  His speech points out that the justices have not exactly been camera-shy and several have appeared on television shows like Primetime, CBS News and 60 Minutes.  Specter has pushed legislation for television coverage in the past, but it never won Senate approval. The new resolution, he said, is a more "restrained and modest approach."

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