Iowa Man’s Supreme Court Case Gives Judges More Sentencing Leeway


A new Supreme Court decision on sentencing is a reminder of the real people behind the high court's cases, says the Washington Post, calling it a “a story that might make even the most objective balls-and-strikes umpire on the mahogany bench feel a tinge of (can it be said?) empathy.” It involves Jason Pepper of Sioux City, Iowa, a meth addict who was sent back to prison after an appeals court ruled his initial sentence too light.

An 8-to-1 opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor gave federal judges more leeway to give second chances to defendants who come before them. The ruling will clarify the rules that guide judges as they try to set sentences that both comport with national norms and ensure justice is done in individual cases. Sotomayor noted that, “By the time of his second resentencing in 2009, Pepper had been drug-free for nearly five years, had attended college and achieved high grades, was a top employee at his job slated for a promotion…”

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