United States v. Watts, 519 U.S. 148, 12 (1997) (per curiam)

Page:   Index   Previous  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  Next

Cite as: 519 U. S. 148 (1997)

Stevens, J., dissenting

the offense of conviction, but of certain related conduct as well. And I agree with the Court that the Guidelines, as presently written, do not make an exception for related conduct that was the basis for a different charge of which a jury acquitted that defendant. To that extent, the Guidelines' policy rests upon the logical possibility that a sentencing judge and a jury, applying different evidentiary standards, could reach different factual conclusions.

This truth of logic, however, is not the only pertinent policy consideration. The Commission in the past has considered whether the Guidelines should contain a specific exception to their ordinary "relevant conduct" rules that would instruct the sentencing judge not to base a sentence enhancement upon acquitted conduct. United States Sentencing Commission, Sentencing Guidelines for United States Courts, 57 Fed. Reg. 62832 (1992) (proposed USSG 1B1.3(c)). Given the role that juries and acquittals play in our system, the Commission could decide to revisit this matter in the future. For this reason, I think it important to specify that, as far as today's decision is concerned, the power to accept or reject such a proposal remains in the Commission's hands.

Justice Stevens, dissenting. "The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 revolutionized the manner in which district courts sentence persons convicted of federal crimes." Burns v. United States, 501 U. S. 129, 132 (1991). The goals of rehabilitation and fairness served by individualized sentencing that formerly justified vesting judges with virtually unreviewable sentencing discretion have been replaced by the impersonal interest in uniformity and retribution.1 Strict mandatory rules have dramatically

1 Compare Williams v. New York, 337 U. S. 241, 247-248 (1949) ("Reformation and rehabilitation of offenders have become important goals of criminal jurisprudence"), with 28 U. S. C. 994(k) (rejecting rehabilitation as a goal of imprisonment) and 18 U. S. C. 3553(a)(2) (stating that punish-


Page:   Index   Previous  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  Next

Last modified: October 4, 2007