The main reason the
Heroin Dealers Windfall Act Smart Sentencing Act is so bad is that it will massively dilute mandatory minimum statutes -- which are, in the post-Booker era, the one remaining source of discipline for district judges who simply don't take socially menacing crime seriously.
This was illustrated in a case I have discussed here, here and here, United States v. Corey Reingold. There, Judge Jack B. Weinstein flouted the advisory guideline range of 14 to 17 years, and gave a 30-month sentence to a repeat distributor of the grossest sort of child pornography. The Second Circuit was forced to rely on the mandatory minimum of five years to insure that, on remand, Judge Weinstein could at least in some small measure be compelled to recognize the gravity of the offense.
Today, the Ninth Circuit joined the Second in utilizing a mandatory minimum to counteract the district court's over-the-top leniency in, of all things, an arson case. Most district courts can probably be counted on to understand the potentially horrendous, if not lethal, results of arson. But most isn't all.
The Ninth Circuit's opinion was penned by Judge Stephen J. Murphy, III, from the Eastern District of Michigan, sitting by designation. We can again be thankful to Judge Murphy, who has long championed law over taste, and his superb clerks.