skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 136361 Find in a Library
Title: Untapped Potential for Judicial Discretion Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines: Advice for Counsel
Journal: Federal Probation  Volume:55  Issue:4  Dated:(December 1991)  Pages:4-9
Author(s): G B Tjoflat
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 6
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Attorneys have failed to capitalize on judicial discretion opportunities contained in the offense-related element of Federal sentencing guidelines promulgated in 1987.
Abstract: Critics of the guidelines say they generally place excessive restrictions on judicial discretion and specifically reduce the judge's role in operating a computerized sentencing mechanism. The author contends, however, that these criticisms fail to appreciate the significant discretion that the sentencing judge retains under the guidelines and that attorneys have yet to take full advantage of the mechanisms for judicial discretion built into the guidelines. Even discussions of the offender-related element, i.e., the defendant's criminal record, which tend to dominate sentencing hearings, rarely go beyond defense counsel's appeal for a merciful interpretation of the defendant's record. These calls for mercy generally fail to present arguments framed in the retributive or incapacitationist terms demanded by the guidelines. Attorneys should familiarize themselves with judicial discretion standards contained in the guidelines and refer to the standards in arguments during sentencing hearings. The ability of the sentencing guidelines to fulfill the goals of honesty, uniformity, and proportionality in sentencing stands and falls with the defense counsel's ability to enunciate relevant arguments during the sentencing hearing. Relevant purposes of the sentencing guidelines are discussed as well as factors contributing to the establishment and imposition of sentences under the guidelines. 40 footnotes
Main Term(s): Sentencing guidelines
Index Term(s): Defense counsel effectiveness; Judicial discretion; Sentence effectiveness
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.