Publication Date


Document Type

Special Contribution


The year 2004 began much like previous years, at least when it came to decisions from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals interpreting the United States Sentencing Guidelines ("U.S.S.G." or "federal sentencing guidelines" or "guidelines"). In less than one year, however, the federal sentencing guidelines and related Eleventh Circuit decisions took on a fascinating new dimension in light of 2004-2005 United States Supreme Court jurisprudence. This jurisprudence culminated with the January 12, 2005 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Booker, which was consolidated with United States v. Fanfan ("Booker/Fanfan"). Therein, the Supreme Court rejected the Eleventh Circuit's position over the last few years, and the Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment right to jury trial, as construed in Apprendi v. New Jersey, and Blakely v. Washington, applies to the federal sentencing guidelines. According to the Supreme Court, the remedy is to sever and excise the portion of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 ("the Act") that makes the guidelines mandatory, thereby making them merely advisory.